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Front Page » October 16, 2003 » Health and Fitness » Exercise is a fine idea for older adults
Published 4,375 days ago

Exercise is a fine idea for older adults

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There is no denying the health benefits exercise provides, from keeping the body trim to improving morale. Regular exercise can also help older adults in a variety of ways.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the health benefits for the elderly include improvements in blood pressure, diabetes, lipid profile, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and neruocognitive function. Regular physical activity is also associated with decreased mortality and age-related morbidity. However, nearly 75 percent of older adults do not get enough exercise to achieve these benefits.

In order for seniors to experience improved health there should be an increase in three components of exercise including aerobic activity, strength training and balance and flexibility. Motivating seniors to begin exercise is best achieved by focusing on individual patient goals, concerns and barriers to exercise.

•Aerobic exercise. Patients who go from none to some aerobic exercise receive the greatest health benefits, while further increases in activity bring progressively smaller improvements. Any exercise should be sustained for a combined total of at least 30 minutes, most days of the week. Individual bursts of activity may be as brief as 10 minutes.

•Strength training. Muscle strength declines by 15 percent per decade after age 50 and 30 percent per decade after age 70, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. This is principally the result of sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) and occurs to a greater degree in older women than men. A single set of 10 to 15 repetitions using eight to 10 different exercises, performed two to three times per week, can greatly improve muscle mass loss. Each repetition should be performed slowly through a full range of motion while avoiding holding one's breath. The training program should involve all major muscle groups.

•Balance and flexibility. Stretch major muscle groups after exercise when muscles are more compliant, once per day. Try balance and weight transfer programs twice per week, including one-leg stands, circle turns, heel stands and closed-eye exercises.

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