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Fitness for the Elderly: Why Exercise is Important as We Age

Written by Lisa Jillanza

elderly exercise 2 Health experts are constantly conducting research in order to learn more about the benefits of exercise for the elderly. Studies have shown that sedentary adults are more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, and joint and muscle disorders.

To help ward off these conditions and to deal with the everyday wear and tear that aging has on our bodies, experts suggest that individuals over the age of 50 should consult their physician and a personal trainer to come up with a fitness plan that works for them.

According to MSNBC, Joe Scott, a NATA member who is outpatient orthopedic team leader for South Coast Hospitals Group in New Bedford, MA says, “If we continue to exercise, especially strength training, we decrease the loss of bone density. Just by working on strength training, you're working your muscles to keep strong.”

Elderly adults who do choose to maintain an exercise regimen experience the same benefits as their younger counterparts including weight control, the ability to manage daily stress and improved self-confidence. In addition, experts say regular exercise can lower blood pressure, increase strength and stamina, enhance flexibility, improve balance and coordination in senior citizens, curb depression, reduce the risk of premature death and minimizes the development of brittle bones. A 1994 Tufts University study showed that even at age 98, exercise and strength training can significantly reverse a loss of strength.

Many people think that beyond a certain age, you become too weak to strength train or benefit from it. But research shows the complete opposite. Without adequate muscle exercise, most adults lose 20 to 40 percent of the muscle they had as young adults. With too much muscle loss people have difficulties performing daily activities that allow them to live independently.

Experts say that even small gains in muscle : too small to see : can make significant differences in how seniors live. Strength training can affect whether an older person can get out of a chair without help. It can also influence their sense of balance, risk of falls and fractures, and the ability to climb stairs or carry groceries. Strength training can even make bones stronger and weight control easier.elderly exercise

One recent study of seniors showed that after six months of strength training, strength in a variety of muscle groups increased 31 percent for the duration of the two-year study. Other studies show benefits for the frail elderly living in nursing homes. People who had formerly needed walkers to get around could use a cane instead.

As found on MSNBC.com, the National Institute on Aging recommends strength training of all major muscle groups: arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, hips and legs, as well as exercise to enhance grip strength. The NIA has even developed a free exercise guidebook to help seniors train safely. It includes 12 strength-training exercises, equipment options, safety cautions (especially for those who have had hip replacements) and resources for additional free information. View it at www.nia.nih.gov/exercisebook .

Seniors often identify access to appropriate equipment as a barrier to strength training. While free weights or Nautilus-type equipment at fitness centers are one option, elastic bands or resistance tubing, which are sold at sporting good stores and discount chains, are effective at keeping seniors strong. Even cans of food or water bottles filled with beans or sand can work.

The American Institute for Cancer Research emphasizes regular exercise, ideally an hour a day, as a vital part of a lifestyle to lower cancer risk and promote good health and a healthy weight. Aerobic exercise like walking, biking and swimming can be the mainstay of your activity. But we all need to include exercise that maintains our flexibility, balance and strength. And that doesn't change as we age.

Winter Workouts: How to Get Your Workout In When Time is of the Essence

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Even though nearly everyone makes a New Year's Resolution to get healthy and exercise more, with the hustle and bustle of the New Year many people often lose track of time and don't stick to either of these resolutions.

Fortunately, there are plenty of exercises that you can do if you only have a little bit of time in your day to do them.

These “mini workout sessions” not only allow you to be physically active during your busy day, but they also help to alleviate stress and provide consistency in your sometimes crazy life.


If you have 10 minutes,

Warm up with one to two minutes of brisk walking, then alternate two minutes running with 30 seconds walking.

If you feel good, gradually increase the speed of your run segments. Repeat three times. Jog easy for one minute to cool down.

If you're stuck in the house, walk briskly from room to room and up and down stairs. Every minute, jog in place for 20 steps.

If you have 15 minutes,


Walk gently up and down a flight of stairs two or three times to warm up.

Then run up one flight and walk back down. Repeat four times, take a one-minute walk break on a flat surface, then continue the sequence as time allows.

If you're in a stairwell, run up two flights of stairs, walk down, repeat, then take a walk break.

If you have 20 minutes,

On an out-and-back route, walk for one minute, then alternate 30 seconds walking with 30 seconds running for three minutes.

For the next six minutes, run/walk using any ratio you wish. At the 10-minute mark, turn around.

For the next nine minutes, run/walk whatever ratio you'd like, but pick up the pace during the run portion.

Cool down for one minute.

If you have 30 minutes,

Walk for two minutes, then alternate 30 seconds walking with 30 seconds running for six minutes.

For the next 20 minutes, alternate jogging for one minute, running a faster pace for one minute, jogging one minute, walking one minute. Repeat the sequence five times.

Walk or jog two minutes to cool down.

Good luck with these “mini” winter workout sessions and here's to keep at least one of those New Year's Resolutions!

Holiday Health: How to Fit in Exercise This Busy Holiday Season

Written by Lisa Jillanza

December can be the busiest month of the year for many people. From holiday entertaining to endless shopping, and from visiting friends and family to all of that food, it is very easy to get off track when it comes to your diet and exercise.

But your exercise regimen doesn't have to falter just because it's the holiday season. Use the following tips to help keep on track when it comes to fitness this year:

Instead of taking that leisurely stroll through the mall when you do your Christmas shopping turn that stroll into a power walk.

Take the stairs while you are at the mall instead of using the elevator or escalator.

Park in the lower lot of the mall and get that extra exercise by walking a little further to the mall.

Try working out in the morning before your busy days get underway.

Invite your house guests to work out with you so you can spend time with them and still get your exercise in.

If you are traveling, check to see if your gym shares their membership with other gyms and try to get in a work out there. If not visit the local YMCA or get a one-time pass to the local gym.

While these are only a few tips to help you keep fit over the holidays, these are definitely a jump start in the right direction.

Wishing you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!

Simple Strength Building Exercises: Three Exercises to Kick Start Your Workout

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Instead of dragging yourself to the gym every day, fit these three simple exercises into your daily regimen at home and you will see results in no time. Begin any work out with a quick stretching routine and then do the following exercises, which target your upper, middle and lower muscle groups, gradually.

Push Ups: (Reps: Three sets of five, or five sets of three) Do simple push-ups, using your knees as your stability, instead of your toes. When lowering your body, try to go as slow as possible for the best work out.

Crunches: (Reps: Three sets of twenty) Do crunches instead of sit-ups because sit-ups tend to harm your back. Lay on your back with your hands locked behind your head, bend knees so your feet are on the floor and lift your shoulders and head up forming the crunch. If you can hold it for one second the work out will be more beneficial.

Half-knee bends: (Reps: Twenty) Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands on hips, lower your hips halfway and hold, placing your weight on the balls of your feet. Hold for a ten count and then go back to a normal stance.