Third Age Fitness

You're Never To Old To BE Fit

The past decade has seen an increased interest in the health and fitness of older adults. There was a time when a person over the age of 60 or 65 was considered to be well into their golden years, retired, and out of the loop when it came to fitness. Not today! Now, more than ever, men and women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s are realizing that life doesn't end when the job is over and the kids are gone. More and more mature adults are involved in their grandchildren's lives in a more substantial way and many are seeing these later years as a great opportunity to take up a sport, be more active, travel or just feel better physically.

What Was and What Is

The prevailing attitude a number of years ago was that strength training would increase blood pressure. Aerobic activity made great strides in the 1960s when it was confirmed that doing aerobic exercise lowered blood pressure, increased cardiovascular endurance and strengthened the heart. Further research has shown that strength training (resistance training with weights), when performed properly is similar to aerobic activity in terms of blood pressure response. Another misconception about weight training is that it would increase body weight. Mistakenly, people think that weight training means weight gain. While it is true that weight training increases muscle mass, it is a great way to lose fat. It increases the amount of calories used during each session of training; it helps the body to continue burning fat for several hours after the exercise session is over; and, muscle is developed, which, in turn, helps the body to continue burning fat over time. Every pound of muscle in the body needs 35 calories just to be there!

Some Facts About Aging

Muscles strength declines by about 15 percent per decade after the age of 50 and that increases to 30 percent per decade after the age of 70. That's a huge amount of lost muscle. The good news is that resistance training can create strength gains of between 25 to 100 percent in older adults. Women experience a far greater loss of muscle mass during the later years than men do. The result of muscle failure is injuries and increased frailty. Consequently, even doing light housework can cause a spike in the heart-rate of sedentary older people.

The Value of Exercise

Exercise is good for everyone and is safe for mature adults over the age of 60, even if they have a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis - they can still exercise safely. Many conditions even improve with exercise. It's fun, safe, and may even reduce the need for medications. If there is a question regarding safety or if exercise has not been part of life for many years, a visit to the doctor is a good idea.

If exercise is a new experience, start slowly doing exercises that are familiar and comfortable. Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes that have a good arch support and cushioned heel to absorb shock. Work with a knowledgeable person who can help and instruct along the way. Before long a wonderful sense of accomplishment and self-confidence will grow inside. There's nothing like the feeling of being strong to help a person take on the day and do more for themselves and others.

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