EXERCISE….that’s the key to a healthy, long life; One of the keys at least!
What’s the golden ticket to living well into your golden years? A lifelong exercise program, says Pamela Peeke, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Specifically, a program that adapts to your physiological needs as you age. “Exercise is age-specific,” says Peeke, author of Fit to Live and Body-for-LIFE for Women. “And you want to start as young as possible.”
Start with a simple, well-rounded fitness plan now, and modest upkeep can take you spryly into your 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. All you have to do is stay consistent. “I’ve seen 100-year-olds who are more active than some 20-year-olds,” Peeke says. However, most people neglect their fitness regimens as they get older: Only 30 percent of people ages 45 to 64, 25 percent of 65- to 74-year-olds, and 11 percent of people 85 and older say they exercise regularly, according to a recent study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
20s: Build your fitness base. Your 20s may seem like a “freebie” decade when you can skip exercise without significant weight gain. But it’s really the perfect time to start building your fitness foundation.
30s: Diversify. If you focused on one sport or activity throughout your 20s, now is the time to round out your exercise program. Swimmers who “just swim,” for example, can run into posture troubles down the road, such as hunching over due to chronically tight neck, chest, and shoulder muscles.
40s: Preserve strength, fight belly fat. Done raising young kids and settled into jobs with extended desk time, many 40-somethings stop lifting weights (or kids) just when it should be the opposite. At 40, a man’s testosterone starts to drop, and with it roughly 5 to 8 percent of his muscle mass per decade. Women also begin losing muscle more rapidly in their 40s. To keep your metabolic rate high and continue burning calories optimally, you need to work to preserve that lean muscle mass.
50s: Protect your heart and core. No matter how active you’ve been, aches and pains will start to crop up now and you’ll have to adapt your exercise regimen around them. Sore knees? Stop running and find a pool. Yoga and pilates are superior for strengthening your abs and back, or “core.” And don’t slouch while you’re walking—extend your body. This simple change can make a big difference in your spinal alignment. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 30 minutes of aerobic activity five times per week to preserve heart health as you age.
60s: Focus on prevention. Are you exercising regularly? Good—you’re less likely to die prematurely from a chronic condition such as diabetes or heart disease, the AHA says. Staying strong through your 60s will also improve your odds of surviving a fall, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pegs as a high risk once you hit 65. Join a group fitness class; many gyms and community centers offer a variety of group classes geared toward seniors, such as Zumba and water aerobics. The supervision makes it safe and you may find working out with others more enjoyable.
70s+: Sustain strength and flexibility. Walking isn’t the only activity that’s safe for seniors 70 and up. To continue performing daily functions independently you must also continue to work on strength, flexibility, and balance. You’re never too old to reap benefits from exercise, according the NIH. The key to exercising safely is easing into your workouts. You can avoid clicking and clunking—not to mention cracking—by taking inventory during your warm-up to see how you feel. If you’re tired, take it slowly. If you experience pain (different from discomfort), check that you’re using correct form in your movements. If the pain persists, stop and consult your doctor to determine how to proceed with your exercise regimen.
If a lifetime of exercise sounds overwhelming, remember that the most important aspect of your exercise regimen at any age is not a particular fitness benefit—it’s fun! Health has to be carried on, on a daily basis, for a lifetime…..the best way to keep your drive to exercise from burning out is to find the activities you love enough to do every day.
Don’t forget…exercise can also help prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a major cause of disability in older women. A bone-weakening disorder, osteoporosis often results in fractures in the hip and spine — which can severely impair your mobility and independence. How can you reduce your risk of these life-altering injuries? Exercise can help. Certain types of exercise may strengthen muscles and bones, while other types of exercises are designed to improve your balance — which can help prevent falls.
Get going with the exercise regimen and reap the benefits immediately. Don’t forget…with regular exercise regular massage can improve your workouts and the way you feel while exercising.