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What Exercises Should I Do and How Much?

Exercise for Seniors

Some types of exercise improve just one area of health or ability. More often, though, an exercise has many different benefits.

Balance Posture

In other words, exercise as much as you can. It's best to increase both the types and amounts of exercises and physical activities you do. Gradually build up to include: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility exercises.

Now that you have read about all the benefits of exercise, we hope you are enthusiastic about getting started. However, it's important to start at a level you can manage and work your way up gradually.

Questions is How Much Exercise For one thing, if you do too much too quickly, you can damage your muscles and tissues, and that can keep you on the sidelines. For another, your enthusiasm needs to last a lifetime. The benefits of exercise and physical activity come from making them a permanent habit. Start with one or two types of exercises that you can manage and that you really can fit into your schedule, then add more as you adjust to ensure that you will stick with it.

How much you exercise depends on you and on your unique situation. For some, muscle-building exercise might mean pushing more than a hundred pounds of weight at the local gym to keep your legs in shape for hiking or jogging. For others, it might mean lifting 1-pound weights to strengthen your arm muscles enough to use a wash cloth. That might mean the dignity that comes from being able to wash yourself, instead of having someone else do it for you. The goal is to improve from wherever you are right now.

Some people are reluctant to start exercising because they are afraid it will be too strenuous. Researchers have found that you don't have to do strenuous exercises to gain health benefits; moderate exercises are effective, too.

How Much Physical Activity Is Enough?

Everyday physical activities can accomplish some of the same goals as exercise. But just how much should you do to get health benefits?

We can't always give you answers, but we can give examples of what researchers have found out. For instance, bus and taxi drivers, who are physically inactive, have a higher rate of heart disease than men in other occupations. And studies show that people who remain physically active have a lower death rate than people who don't.

In another study, researchers measured muscle strength in 75-year-olds who regularly did tasks like housework and gardening and in 75-year-olds who were inactive. Five years later they found that the active people kept more of their strength than did the inactive people.

While we can't yet tell you exactly how much everyday physical activity you should get to gain specific health benefits, the message of these studies is clear: Whatever your age, stay physically active!

In a later article, we give you specific types and amounts of exercises to do. They can help you not only maintain your current levels of strength and fitness, but also help you build them up. Our examples also might encourage you to exercise muscles and joints that you have stopped using or that you use less often without even realizing it.

Older couple dancing

Many people 90 and older who have become physically frail from inactivity can more than double their strength through simple exercises in a fairly short time. For some, that can mean the difference between getting up from a chair by themselves or depending on someone to help them. In one study, some people 80 and older progressed from using walkers to using canes after doing simple muscle building exercises for just 10 weeks.

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Disclaimer: The material on this Web site is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or fitness professional. Please consult with your physician before beginning any fitness program or fat or weight reduction program. FitnessandFreebies.com takes no responsibility for individual results, or any claim made by a third party.