Health Benefits of Fitness and Exercise For Older People

In the past, people used to think that fitness and exercise were for the youngsters. Older people can't benefit from building strength and muscle mass. Of course, such belief is a myth. Studies upon studies have proved that strength training and exercise can greatly benefit those who are over 50 years old.

There are many changes in our body as we get older. Metabolism slows, body fat accumulates, narrowing artery passageways, blocked arteries, higher blood pressure, thinning of or porous bones that can lead to osteoporosis, depreciating muscle and skin tones.

Many studies have proven that fitness and exercise can help slow down the aging process and many of its problems mentioned above. The American College of Sports Medicine - a major resource for exercise science, sports medicine, health, and fitness information - suggests that 15-60 minutes of aerobic (oxygen-enhancing) exercise a few days per week can help slow down your biological clock. Therefore, fitness and exercise for older folks are definitely healthy.

One of the goals of fitness and exercise for older people is to raise the heart rate to a safe level. For example, 30 minutes of slow jogging, brisk walking, mild jumping jacks, swimming or dancing are all great cardiovascular workouts. These exercises can help keep the heart and blood vessels healthy.

For older folks (over 40s), strength-building exercises are very useful in helping to keep the muscles toned and blood sugar levels at appropriate levels. It also helps to build muscle mass and maintain an optimal weight. Fitness and exercise also help build good leg muscles, leading to better support for joints and less likelihood of a fall. This is important in helping reduce the number of home injuries for older folks. The National Institutes of Health report more than 300,000 hospital admissions yearly for old people due to broken hips, many of them from falling at home.

Gentle static and dynamic stretching exercises such as yoga also very useful in keeping the muscles flexible and joints lubricated. It helps blood flows, regain of energy, improve coordination, body balance and maximize range of movement. You will also have less pain in your muscles and joints during both exercise and daily activities.

Fitness and exercises not only help old people to be healthy physically but psychologically as well. It helps to heighten moods, reduce stress and depression. This is very important as older people often feel being isolated when loved ones and friends are no longer around.

However, older people should consult with teir doctors first before starting any exercise program. Start slowly especially if you have been sedentary for a while. Build up your strength, flexibility and endurance gradually. Stop when you feel pain. Take good care.

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