Exercise and physical activity are among the most important things you can do to live well and stay healthy. They are fundamental to the physical and mental health of almost everyone, especially older adults. Scientists have found that staying physically active and exercising regularly can delay and even prevent many diseases related to aging.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits and even improve the health of some older adults who already have diseases and disabilities. Exercise is often an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. Studies have shown that people with arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes benefit from regular physical activity. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems, or difficulty walking. That is why many health experts say older adults should be as active as possible.

To get the benefits of physical activity try a variety of exercise type including endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Regular physical activity for older adults should include both moderate intensity aerobic activity, and muscle strengthening activities, for a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes each week. To avoid injury, warm up with low-intensity exercises; wear appropriate shoes; and drink water before, during and after your exercise session. Stop exercising if you have pain, feel dizzy or sick to your stomach or have muscle cramps. Pain is your body’s way of telling you to take a break.

Remember, safety first! When starting a new exercise program, begin with low-intensity exercises and consult with your physician to make sure the exercises and activities you have chosen are safe, and will enhance your lifestyle.

(Excerpted from the March/April 2013 Insight Newsletter)

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