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Hartselle Enquirer

Seniors citizens finding health through activities

By Staff
Staff Reports, Hartselle Enquirer
It's ironic that everyone wants to find the mythical "fountain of youth," but so many are reluctant to take advantage It's ironic that everyone wants to find the mythical "fountain of youth," but so many are reluctant to take advantage of an obvious one. No surgery, creams nor secret stream of water can prevent the harmful effects of aging like a thing called exercise.
Exercise has been proven to help with weight management, improve skeletal-muscle strength and endurance, cardiopulmonary fitness, flexibility and possibly improve your immune system and mental health. Exercising twice weekly has been shown to reduce the threat of strokes by 40 percent, coronary heart disease by 15 percent and the threat of mortal cardiovascular disease by 15 percent. And that doesn't account for the energizing and psychological effects that can be provided by exercise.
However, a recent study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) showed that between 28 percent and 34 percent of adults aged 65 to 74 and 35 percent to 44 percent of adults age 75 are inactive, meaning they report no leisure-time moderate activity. Fewer than a third of Americans in the age range exercise twice weekly. Despite the overwhelming number of both private and public gyms, the numbers aren't improving.
But the old excuses don't work. Exercise doesn't have to mean sweating at the gym or buying expensive equipment. In fact, it requires nothing but a willing spirit. "No one is too old to enjoy the benefits of regular exercise. Healthy lifestyles, which include proper nutrition, are more influential than genetic factors in avoiding deterioration traditionally associated with aging," said HHS Assistant Secretary for Aging Josefina G. Carbonell. If nothing else, the old and young alike are encouraged to start with a series of stretching exercises. Floor based or standing, stretching can help loosen tight muscles and renew blood flow. The Society of Geriatric Cardiology in Bethesda, Maryland, recommends moderate intensity exercise, such as walking. To avoid injuries, start exercising slowly (10 to 15 minutes at a comfortably low to moderate intensity), build up the time (add 5 minutes every 2 to 3 weeks) and avoid high impact strenuous activities like jogging or jumping.
Strengthtraining exercises should begin with a light weight that can be lifted comfortably through a full range of motion using good posture and not holding your breath. The goal is to complete 10 to 15 repetitions per exercise. However, there are always risk factors involved in exercise. "Too often," said a spokesperson for the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), "people jump into exercise or try to do what they did 20 years ago, injuring themselves in the process. The 50-plus adult's physical capabilities and chronic diseases make this individual's needs different than those of a younger person."

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