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Keeping Active at Any Age

Thursday, March 9, 2017

People are living longer than ever before. Advances in medicine, nutritional awareness and improved exercise habits have contributed to the rapid growth of the 65+ age group. By the year 2030, there will be more people over age 65 than under age 18.

Exercise is important at any age. The benefits of exercise are the same – increased energy and self-esteem, conditioned heart and lungs, improved muscle tone and greater function of bones and joints. Engaging in regular exercise can also reduce the effects of certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and osteoporosis.

Physical inactivity is a problem for everyone, but it is an even greater issue for older adults. When combined with the normal, physical changes of aging, sedentary older adults are more likely to be affected by illness, loss of function and loss of independence.

Get Active

There are many sports and activities to choose from to help reach your fitness goals. The best choices are those activities you truly enjoy. It's much easier to stay with something that's fun. Walk, ride a bike or dance. Even things like working in a garden and cleaning the house are good for you.

Walking is a great way to achieve overall fitness year-round. It strengthens your cardiovascular system, tones your muscles and burns calories. Walking at a brisk pace gives you the same aerobic benefits as jogging. It also reduces blood pressure, improves sleep, helps digestion, alleviates constipation, raises metabolism and helps to reduce bone loss.

While it is important to stay active, it's also important to play it safe. Before you begin, talk to your doctor. Then start slowly with a five-minute warm-up with stretching and slow movement, increasing your activity level gradually. As your fitness improves, you can exercise more often or for longer.

Exercise at a comfortable, steady pace so you can speak without running out of breath. At the end of your workout, cool down for five minutes, so your heart rate can return to normal and your muscles and joints remain flexible.

It's never too late to increase your physical activity or start exercising. Just choose something you enjoy doing, and the benefits will last a lifetime.

If you experience any shortness of breath, dizziness, cold or clammy skin, nausea or chest pains while exercising, stop exercising immediately and contact your physician.

Minnesota's Area Agencies on Aging, in partnership with the Minnesota Board on Aging, provide a free information and assistance service – the Senior LinkAge Line® that helps older adults and their caregivers with a variety of aging issues. Call the Senior LinkAge Line® at 1-800-333-2433 or visit us online at MinnesotaHelp.info.