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How Exercise Benefits the Older Adult Body

I'll admit that I sometimes find it funny when I meet people that say they "hate" to exercise. I find it a little funny because exercise is essentially the process of creating movement using certain muscle groups. By this definition just about any sort of activity can be considered exercise. And that is a very good start!

Think of it this way, muscles require energy to move and so the body focuses on metabolizing calories to produce the energy for any given activity. The more your muscles and body work to keep any particular activity that you are doing in motion, the stronger and more efficient they become at this process. In other words, everyday physical activities (like walking the dog, cleaning house, and gardening) become easier when done consistently and approached with purpose.

However, the benefits of formal exercise on the older adult body are wide and varied, such as increased energy, weight loss, and even the reduction of risk for certain types of diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. And given the sedentary lifestyle that most Americans tend to lead, this is why exercise is especially important as we get older.

If you want to improve and maintain health, or lose weight and keep it off, formal exercise is a must have activity to be added to your daily routines. Exercise burns calories which in turn can mean less stored fat, which means less weight on your joints, which also translates into less stress on your heart and less body aches and pains.

In fact, a healthy diet combined with a varied exercise regimen is a surefire formula for successful weight loss at any age but it is particularly beneficial for the older adult. Exercise can help prolong lifestyle, improve confidence in an aging body, and maintain physical independence. Just make sure that in starting any exercise regimen that you are still getting enough calories each day to maintain your muscle strength and sustain your body’s functions.

Types of Exercise

While the benefits of exercise are wide and varied, so too are the many different types of formal exercise programs. There’s weight training, running, biking, aerobic classes, swimming, yoga, walking, and the list continues.

And while many fitness professionals argue on the best type of exercises to perform, for instance running may get your heart rate going but it can also be very hard on your joints, my recommendation for incorporating beneficial exercise into your lifestyle is to do a variety of exercises. For instance a good exercise regimen will include both cardio (biking, walking, swimming, running) with some form of weight training.

Most importantly - find the types of exercises that you think you will enjoy!

Just heed this warning; if you are a man over the age of 40 or a woman over the age of 45, it is very important that before you begin any new exercise regimen you consult with your doctor beforehand, and that you start off very slowly. While you may not feel different, your internal physiology has most definitely changed since your days as a twenty-something…

Lastly, the longer you’ve been out of shape, the longer it can take for your body to get used to exercising and recuperating from it. Remain steadfast, and be good to your body. Stretch and warm up prior to exercise. And don’t forget to schedule enough time to rest between your regularly scheduled workouts.

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