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Healthy for Life: Fighting the Holiday Bulge!

December 06, 2015

The holidays are officially over – but are you still feeling as stuffed as the turkey you oohed and ahhed over?
We've got a solution: exercise. We can hear you groaning – and thinking up excuses. Your hip hurts. You're too old. Too tired. And on and on.

Here's something to entice you: exercise can help shed unwanted pounds, improve your energy level and add years to your life. And, according to NIHSeniorHealth, "Making exercise a regular part of your life can improve your health and help you maintain your independence as you age."

Need more of a reason? How about the U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health which confirms that " inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are more active. Lack of physical activity also can lead to more doctor visits to, more hospitalizations, and more medicines for a variety of illnesses."

A recent Gallup study revealed that seniors who exercise frequently feel they are they are in excellent or very good health.
While doctors extoll the importance of exercise for patients with chronic illnesses (diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.), they also acknowledge its importance in preventing or delaying disease.

The American Council on Exercise claims that working out can:
  • Increase bone density and prevents osteoporosis
    Osteoporosis is affecting an ever-larger number of elderly – becoming one of the major health problems associated with old age. It affects some 20 million women and 5 million men and leads to more than 250,000 hip fractures each year. Exercise delays the onset of osteoporosis by increasing bone strength.

  • Improve self-efficiency
    One of the top concerns of the elderly is losing control, becoming dependent or a burden to someone. Exercise helps older adults maintain a greater capacity to undertake the activities of daily living."
    Maintain balance and improve reflexes to decrease falls.
    As adults age there is a natural decline in balance and coordination, which can be postponed and even prevented with proper strength and balance training.

  • Improve pulmonary function
    Pulmonary function declines with age due to the degeneration of the vertebral disks, which alters the shape of the thoracic cavity. Physical activity, which decreases the amount of vertebral degeneration and increases the strength of the thoracic cavity, may lead to improved pulmonary function.

  • Boost mood
    Exercise reduces the incidence of depression and improves self-esteem while providing a feeling of accomplishment.

  • Help prevent and regulate diabetes
    Aerobic exercise has shown to be an important means of preventing and treating non-insulin-dependent diabetes by helping regulate blood glucose levels.

  • Improve flexibility and range of motion
    Physical activities that require the body to go through the full range of movement helps keep the body flexible and mobile.

  • Improve cardiovascular strength
    Cardiovascular exercise helps maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system reducing the risk of heart disease.

How to begin? Slowly. And not before you get the OK from your doctor. We're not advocating the "no pain, no gain" philosophy (even 75-year-old fitness guru Jane Fonda has given that up). Take the stairs instead of the elevator, garden or go for a walk.
You can even exercise in the comfort of your own home (although we do suggest you keep your elderly alert systems close by just in case you need to summon help).

Ready? Get set, go!

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