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Exercise: Do it more often

November 18, 2010
BARBARA?E. RILEY, Ohio Department of Aging Director

You know you should exercise more. You know it's good for you. You've heard that if you don't use it, you lose it. So, why don't you?

According to the American Council on Exercise, people over age 60 who stay physically active can improve cognitive ability, memory, emotional health and prevent depression, while increasing bone density and deterring osteoporosis. Physical activity also can help older adults improve their balance to prevent falls, boost cardiovascular health to prevent heart attacks and improve overall metabolism to help delay diabetes onset and complication of diabetes, all of which help to keep health care costs down.

Finding motivation to exercise, as well as finding appropriate activities for your age and physical condition, can be challenging. Some people find exercise boring, while others just can't stand doing it. While you are not ready for shuffleboard, you also may not be ready to go running around the neighborhood in an effort to get healthy. Expense, convenience and fear of embarrassment are excuses people often use to avoid exercising.

Finding ways to make exercise enjoyable is possible. Physical activity can and should be part of your everyday life. Find things you like to do: go for brisk walks, ride a bike, dance, work around the house, garden, climb stairs, swim, rake leaves or play with your grandchildren. Try different kinds of activities that keep you moving.

You might be surprised to know just how many calories you can burn doing everyday activities. By proceeding briskly through your housework, you can have an excellent workout. A 150 pound person can burn as many as 140 calories by mopping the floor or vacuuming for 30 minutes. The same 150 pound person will burn 177 calories pulling weeds for half an hour and another 120 calories mowing the lawn. Because gardening often involves stretching and bending, it offers muscular as well as cardiovascular benefits. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, a typical woman burns 161 calories in 30 minutes of gardening, while the typical man burns 209.

Many new video games approach physical fitness in a fun way. The sports simulations available through Nintendo's Wii, for example, offer low impact bowling, golf, tennis and yoga. The video game Dance Dance Revolution has the potential to give the player a fantastic cardio workout. Playstation has a game that encourages you to kick, punch and jump your way to fitness as you perform various activities in a virtual workout world.

Having a friend to work out with can be the best thing for your motivation. Not only is it a great time to socialize, but the fact that you've made a commitment to another person that you will work out at this time on these days will motivate you further. You can't just sleep in when you know you've got a friend waiting for you at the gym.

Walking the dog cannot only be an enjoyable bonding activity, but it's also a way in which you can motivate yourself to exercise because that dog needs to be walked daily. There's no avoiding it. This way, both you and your furry friend get a workout and both of you will feel better about it.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults should get at least two and a half hours a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. You can spread this time throughout the week, but at a minimum, you should be active at least 10 minutes each time you exercise. To achieve aerobic conditioning, you must engage in vigorous, sustained exercise at least three times each week, but exercising just one day a week can give older adults the strength to maintain their independence and to avoid injuries.

Ohio offers many other ways to help you incorporate physical activity into your life. For example, Ohio's more than 450 full- and part-time senior centers offer older Ohioans a place to exercise, as well as classes, social activities and volunteer opportunities.

Healthy U, a program developed by researchers at Stanford University and offered in Ohio through a partnership among the Ohio Department of Aging, the Ohio Department of Health and area agencies on aging, helps adults of any age with chronic diseases gain confidence in their ability to manage symptoms and understand how their health problems affect their lives. Part of the program is a discussion of appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility and endurance.

Contact your area agency at 1-866-243-5678 to find out more about Healthy U or call your local health department and other community agencies to find activities that interest you.

 
 

 

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