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The Role of Exercise and Healthy Aging
Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. As we age, exercise brings added health benefits and perhaps, most importantly, helps to maintain mobility and mental clarity, vital to independent living. Yes, keeping active may help keep us young, and becoming more physically active may help us outrun Father Time!
Benefits of Keeping Active & Exercise
- Maintains or increases muscle mass and strength
- Protects against heart disease
- Can improve blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, HDLs and triglycerides
- Strengthen bones and may reduce the risk of falls and fractures
- May decrease mental decline
- Aids in maintaining a healthy weight
- May aid in managing depression and stress
- Boosts energy levels
Whether you walk, bike, swim, take a class, work in the garden, or do house work, all can contribute to a healthier brain!
Ready, Set, Go...
Make exercise accessible; choose an activity that you like and that you can do. Try to include:
- Resistance Training strengthens muscles and may improve mental focus. Strive for twice a week.
- Aerobic Activity improves mobility and promotes gray-matter volume in the brain at a time of life in which deterioration and risk for dementia is greatest. So step it up with activities such as walking or biking. Try to walk 30 minutes each day or almost every day.
- Tai Chi, a combination of slow gentle graceful movements, deep breathing and relaxation can improve balance and flexibility. Research shows that tai chi can reduce the risk of falls (a major cause of loss of independence) and to help relieve depression.
Be sure to check with your physician before beginning an exercise program.
Regular exercise/activity along with balancing calories is key to attaining & maintaining a healthy weight. This month, focus on balancing calories between the food you eat and your physical activity. Go to ChooseMyPlate.gov to find your calorie level; make half your plate vegetables, avoid oversized portions, cut back on empty calorie foods, consume nonfat dairy products and drink more water instead of calorie dense beverages. Track your activity by wearing a pedometer each day!
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