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Dr. Anthony’s Blog

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How do you adjust your exercises as you get older?

Let’s face it, as we get older things get harder to do.  Running a mile may feel like 6 miles, an hour long workout leaves you breathless and even pushing the lawn mower is harder to do than it was years ago. But just because we are getting older, doesn’t mean we should stop exercising. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true.  It is important to keeping moving as we get older! 

We envy the youthful, but age is mind over matter. Of course, it is true that we lose muscle and bone and that our heart becomes stiffer (causing shortness of breath when physically active).  But  even though physically we can’t lift as much weight as we used to or dance the night away like we did in our 20s, there are certainly activities to keep you feeling and looking good.

Physical activity becomes increasingly important as we age. As we lose muscle over time, our metabolism slows down when we get older, so burning off calories becomes more of a challenge.  Plus with age we discover our years of bad habits have caught up with us….too much salt, sugary drinks, smoking, etc all now take a toll on the “adult” us.  We can’t get in a time machine but we can try to make good on our future. Withering leg muscles (due to combined effect of muscle loss with aging and physical inactivity) means inability to walk and loss of independence.

Many organizations have activities for seniors: churches, YMCA, and other groups encourage older adults to keep moving and in a fun way. Zumba Gold is specifically designed for older adults.  Even senior living centers have exercises for the elderly, sometime just Wii (video game) bowling  offers a way to move about and keep the blood flowing.

The American Diabetes Association says aging is the most universal contributor to the  onset of disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Insulin resistance is a major component of metabolic syndrome and is commonly seen in older adults.

Bone density begins to diminish as early as age 30-40 and loss of bone density means your bones are more fragile and likely to break.  Your blood vessels and arteries also become stiffer making your heart work harder to pump blood through them. High blood pressure is a result of this.  As we age muscles lose strength and flexibility .

So this all sounds like terrible news, right? Wrong. Although aging is a fact of life, you can still enjoy your senior years. Your diet is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle: increase your calcium, vitamin D and eat a healthy diet.  Getting enough sleep and managing stress will also help. And move! Yes, physical activity is important.  You may not be able to run a marathon anymore, but taking walks certainly will help. Swimming is a fantastic exercise that is easy on joints.  Yoga and Pilates are also easy on joints and non-cardio types of exercise.  They may help with balance and flexibility as well, preventing the risk of a fall.  Take a dance class...you will burn calories, get the heart pumping and probably have fun while doing it!  If you can’t find a class, just stretch at home, or find a video to help you get started.  A walking club in the neighborhood could also be a fun social activity and a healthy endeavor.

It doesn’t have to be fancy or cost a lot of money, but the key is to keep moving! Once you slow down, it is harder to get back on track.  Talk to your physician for more ideas, he or she will be happy to hear you are not going to let age keep you down!  Jack LaLane was 96 when he died and his family says he had been performing his daily workout routine the day before his death.  We all have to pass from this life at some point, but going through life happy and HEALTHY is a much better way to live.

 

To your health!

 

Dr. Anthony