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Senior health and fitness

Posted December 24, 2014 in Advice Column, Bondurant

While strength training is important for people of all ages, it can espicially beneficial for seniors. As we age, some of the changes we experience are:

Muscular strength decreases

Flexibility decreases

Bone mass decreases

Balance decreases

Recovery time increases

Reaction time increases (needs more time)

These are just a small list of reasons as to why it is important to exercise in our golden years. On the average, adults lose about 6 pounds of muscle mass and up to 3 percent of their bone density on a decade-by-decade basis unless they perform some type of strength exercise. As you exercise you will notice changes such as:

Improves all aspects of physical fitness
Psychological health and sense of well being
Decrease risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer, osteoporosis, and general
decrease in risk of premature death.

Although building bone is a relatively slow process, the rate at which older individuals can add muscle, increase strength and recharge their metabolism is amazing.

Balance is one of the things seniors ask about the most so here are a few tips to help you improve your balance not matter what your age.

Staggered Stance: With a chair at your side, stand with the heel of one foot touching the toe of your other foot. As you stand, focuse your eyes on a non moving focal point. When comfortable with your stance, slowly lift your hands off the chair. If you can do this exercise without holding on, try and talk a few steps without looking at your feet.

Single Leg Stand: Stand next to a chair, place a hand on the chair and slowly lift one foot off the floor. As you get comfortable with this, slowly let go of the chair. Don’t forget to do this exercise with both sides of the body and work up to holding the foot up (without holding on to the chair) for :10 seconds

Sit and Stand Ups: Sit in a chair with arms (if possible). Stand up out of the chair. As your legs get stronger you will be able to stop using your arms to push you out of the chair. This will build your leg muscles so you can pick up your feet when you walk as well as get out of a chair with ease.

Try these exercises at least three times a week and see how much your balance will improve, but also remember to have someone there to assist you so you don’t fall. In conclusion, sedentary adults in advanced age can improve their functional fitness by engaging in a supervised exercise program. Both resistance-training and walking programs can yield improvements on multiple measures.

Live a happy, healthy and long life with staying active so get out there and exercise and face your Golden Years with confidence.

Information provided by Roni Harless, Brick House Fitness, 116 Brick St., Bondurant.

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