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Staying in Shape as You Age
Many Benefits From Exercise
- Increased muscle mass, strength, and flexibility
- Lower body fat, especially in the abdomen
- Higher metabolic rate and less tendency to gain weight
- Improved ability to do everyday tasks
- Better balance and less risk of falls or fractures
- Increased joint mobility and less arthritic pain
- Decreased risk of many chronic diseases, including:
- Increased longevity
- Improved quality of life
Recommendations for Getting Fit
- Do moderately-intense exercise (raises your heart rate, but you are still able to have a conversation) for 150 minutes a week or do more vigorous exercise for 75 minutes a week. Remember that if you exercise more, you will get more benefits! If you are unable to meet the activity guidelines, strive to be as active as you can be.
- Do a strength training routine at least twice a week.
- Do activities that promote flexibility.
- Do balance exercises to reduce your risk of falling.
Precautions Before You Begin
- Start slowly, gradually increasing your time and intensity. Experts generally recommend a low-to-moderate level of low-impact exercise, such as walking, biking, or swimming for older adults.
- Do low-intensity warm-up and cool-down activities. This allows time for your body to adjust. It also helps prevent your blood pressure from dropping, which can happen if you suddenly stop exercising.
- Pace yourself so you can still talk comfortably during exercise. Or learn to check your pulse rate.
- Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercising.
- Stop your activity and consult a doctor right away if you have chest pain or pressure, lightheadedness, nausea, abnormal heartbeats, trouble with breathing or balance, or other unusual symptoms.
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute http://www.cflri.ca
Healthy Living Unit http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
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- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 01/31/2014