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IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH WITH REGULAR EXERCISE

While important at any age, maintaining an active life style as we age has tremendous physical and mental benefits. Evidence shows that regular aerobic activity improves memory and overall brain function while reducing significantly the likelihood of  developing Alzheimer's disease. 

In addition to maintaining a healthy heart and strong and flexible muscles, regular exercise three to four times per week can greatly reduce your risk of depression and help control and possibly prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

While there are many reasons elderly individuals do not exercise, the good news for those who choose to include exercise as part of their daily routine is that the benefits associated with regular physical activity are achievable with minimal effort.

You do not need and it is not advisable nor possible for elderly individuals to become accomplished athletes to reap the benefits of exercise.

As you achieve a certain level of fitness, the benefits of exercise will reach a plato. Once that plato is reached, typically few weeks after beginning regular exercise, the benefits of significantly increasing the intensity of your exercise routine will be marginal at best.This is also true for accomplished athletes.

To put things in perspective, an Olympic athlete looking to improve performance by say 1% to 5%, may need to increase the intensity and or duration of his training routine by say 25%. For an Olympic athlete the 1 to 5 percent performance improvement can be important as it could mean a difference between a gold medal or finishing top 20 or so. For an elderly individual exercising in order to take advantage of numerous physical and mental benefits associated with maintaining an active life style, once a certain level of fitness is achieved, a 25% increase in exercise duration and or intensity would produce practically insignificant added health benefits while exposing one self to unnecessary risk of injury.

Simply put, starting and maintaining a moderate level of regular exercise activity is neither difficult nor does it need to be particularly strenuous in order to achieve associated health benefits. Fast walking combined with selected strength exercises 3 to 4 times per week may be all you need.  Assisted Living photo

Now that we have established what is required, here is my suggestion on ways to achieve it:

1. Always consult a physician before you start exercising. 

2. Consider hiring a good personal trainer to help you develop a customized exercise routine that takes into      consideration your personal goals and objectives as well as your existing injuries or other physical limitations. A good personal trainer will also ensure you develop proper exercise form to prevent injuries. For convenience, look for a trainer that provides in home service or via Internet ( Skype) which is more cost effective.

3. For those who are more adventurous and want to start exercising on their own, start slowly and build up your routine intensity on by weekly basis. Add variety to keep things interesting and utilize all muscle groups.

4. Make sure to include strength training in addition to cardio for maximum health benefits

5. Monitor the intensity of your exercise with a heart rate monitor watch to ensure your heart rate is within     acceptable lower and upper limits. Good heart rate monitor can be purchased for around $100. While there are many brands to choose from, my personal preference is Polar.  

 To calculate the lower and upper heart rate (HR) / minute limit use one of the following methods:    

a. Simple yet somewhat less accurate method:         

Lower limit = ( 220 - Your Age ) x 60%    

Upper limit = ( 220 - Your Age ) x 90%    

b. More accurate calculation method:       

  Lower Limit = 50% [ (220 - your age) - resting HR ] + resting HR   

  Upper Limit = 80% [ (220 - your age) - resting HR ] + resting HR  

resting HR = heart rate beats /minute while resting.

Normal resting heart or pulse rate is between 50 and 100 beats per minute. 

For optimal results and safety, keep your heart rate between the lower and upper limit while you exercise. If you are just starting, keep closer to the lower limit. As your fitness improves, gradually increasing exercise intensity to get the heart rate closer to the upper limit. 

IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH WITH REGULAR EXERCISE.... START TODAY!

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