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Fitness: Elixir for the Ages
Paying the Price for Not Exercising
Helping to Reverse the Effects of Aging
Gaining Benefits at Any Age
Getting Help for Getting Started
- Are older
- Have a chronic disease
- Are taking medication
- Are overweight
- Have not exercised regularly in the past few years
Having a Goal in Mind
- Throughout the week, aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking briskly.
- Or, aim for 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercises throughout the week, such as jogging or running.
- In addition, do strength-training exercises to work the muscles in your legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, and arms. Strength training should be done two or more times per week.
- Or, do a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercises, along with the strength training.
- 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise along with two or more days of strength training
- Or, 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise and strength training
- Or, a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercises and strength-training
Including Some Variety
- Warm up —Warm up for at least five minutes. Light activity, such as walking while gently swinging your arms, circulates blood to warm up your muscles. Jumping too quickly into vigorous exercise can shock and injure the muscles.
- Aerobic exercise —Include aerobic activities, such as walking, jogging, bicycling, and dancing most days of the week. These strengthen your heart and lungs by increasing your heart rate and breathing and improving the circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body. Walking is one of the easiest and most convenient aerobic activities. If you are just beginning to exercise, start with five minutes daily, adding a few minutes each week to reach your desired goal. Daily activities count. Walk a few blocks instead driving or skip the elevator and use stairs.
- Strength training —Strength training with hand and ankle weights, resistance bands, or gym equipment is vital for maintaining muscle and bone strength. Bowling, hiking, and tennis are other strength-building activities. Because muscles need a day or two to rest and repair, include these activities only 2-3 times weekly.
- Stretching —Flexibility declines with age but can be regained with consistent stretching exercises. Stretching alleviates joint stiffness, reduces stress, and may prevent falls. Yoga is an excellent activity that incorporates various stretching and balancing poses to keep the body limber. Contact your local YMCA or Council on Aging to find inexpensive yoga classes designed for older adults.
- Cool down—Finally, slow your pace for a cool-down period of at least 5-10 minutes to gradually bring your heart rate back to normal.
National Institute on Aging http://www.nia.nih.gov
NIH Senior Health http://nihseniorhealth.gov
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
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- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 10/2013
- Update Date: 10/14/2013