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Benefits of Exercise for Seniors

    • After decades of alarms clocks, timesheets, deadlines and all-too-short vacations, it's finally time to retire. But days of leisure and relaxation also free up time for fitness and physical activity.

      "The golden years of retirement should not equate with a sedentary life," said Minerva Navarro, M.D., a geriatrician at PAMF's Mountain View Center. "I tell my older patients that it's never too late to reap the benefits of regular exercise. No matter how long it has been since someone has exercised or how old that person is, there is some sort of appropriate exercise that can boost fitness, energy and overall well-being."

      Dr. Navarro emphasizes the many benefits of exercise for seniors, even beyond an overall improvement in their fitness levels. "Regular exercise can lower the prevalence of risk factors linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure," she said. "It also diminishes the risk of depression and lessens the severity of depressive symptoms."

      Building physical fitness involves working the heart, lungs and muscles regularly. Ideally, seniors (or adults of all ages) should get some form of aerobic exercise at least three times a week.

      Talk with your doctor before starting your exercise program and consider a low impact exercise that is less likely to cause bone or joint injuries in seniors. Low impact exercises include:

      • Water aerobics or swimming
      • Walking, hiking or jogging
      • Dancing
      • Light weights and calisthenics
      • Bike riding
      • Bowling
      • Golfing

      "Muscle strength begins to decline after age 50, but regular exercise can ward off weakening and boost health in older adults," Dr. Navarro said. "It's never too late to get back into shape. I truly believe that exercise is the fountain of youth."

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