Aging Gracefully with Exercise: Staying Fit at 50 and Beyond
Oct 28, 2009
Exercise is important at any age, but the moves you choose will likely change as you grow older. The onset of joint and muscle pain begins to limit mobility, making downhill skiing or flag football difficult. Additionally, a loss in muscle mass and bone density might slow down some people. The onset of osteoarthritis, which affects 27 million Americans, or depression, which strikes as many as 14 percent of males and 18 percent of females over age 55, can impact the ability to exercise too.
As the aches and pains set in, focus on these Healthful Hints from Weiss Memorial Hospital to keep fit at every age:
- Add Endurance. Activities like walking, swimming, biking and dancing get the heart pumping, which benefits the circulatory system, potentially preventing diabetes, heart disease and depression. A half-hour of this type of activity three times a week will have you feeling fine, and even improve your memory. A recent study shows the incidence of dementia in individuals who walked three or more times per week was 35 percent lower than those individuals who walked less than three days per week.
- Strength Train. Strengthening exercises—whether you work out with weights or stretch bands—build muscle tissue and reduce age-related muscle loss and improves bone structure. The toned physique also helps with balance and coordination to reduce your chances of falling.
- Stretch. Stretching and range of motion exercises such as yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi keep the body limber and flexible, reducing the risk of injury.
- Build Brain Power. Exercise your brain by gardening, playing computer games and doing crossword puzzles. Research shows elderly people who did crossword puzzles four times a week or more had a 47 percent decreased risk of dementia than those who did these puzzles once a week or less.
“The most important factor in staying active is to enjoy exercise,” said Paul Radzki, exercise physiologist at Weiss Memorial Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center and the Weiss Initiative Supporting Elders program. “Making it fun will keep you going.”
Radzki encourages seniors to add just a little bit of cardio and calisthenics to their daily routine; and it won’t be long before they notice how much better they feel.