Healthy Aging

healthy aging

The “No Excuses” New Year’s Resolution

It’s that time of year again. Jan. 1, 2010 is here. Chances are, the holidays delivered many gifts, food and spirits. Now that the New Year is here, we have a chance to do what we know we should, EXERCISE.

Dr. James Ripp, an associate professor of cardiovascular medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Mass., has quipped that, “Most people are not choosing between walking and running. They are choosing between sitting and walking.”

Who Should Exercise?

No one is automatically exempt from exercise. People who have chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis can and should be involved in some form of exercise that must be approved or prescribed by a physician.

Why Should I Exercise?

Exercise has been shown by countless scientific studies to be beneficial and life prolonging, even in the face of certain chronic diseases. For a healthy person, exercise is one of only a few ways proven to preserve good health. Regular exercise can reduce breast, prostate and colon cancers and improve the immune system, which wards off bacterial and viral infections. Exercise also can be beneficial for people with arthritis or osteoporosis; exercise recommendations from a physician are essential for people with these health conditions. 

Weight management is another benefit of exercise. Controlling weight can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. A combination of exercise and proper diet are more effective than pills and other weight loss approaches. 

Finally, exercise helps with sleep disorders, improves long-term memory, prevents depression and anxiety, and assists in stress management.

When Should I Exercise?

Daily exercise is the most reliable way to maintain health and fitness and should become a habit. Habits are hard to break, even good ones. 

Exercise should not be an ordeal or something that a person dreads. It should be fun, recreational, social or have some other redeeming personal value. Some people find it easier to stick with a fitness plan that includes friends and variety.

What Types of Exercise Should Be Part of My Routine?

In exercise, as with diet, it is most healthy to maintain balance. Types of exercise to include in a daily routine are: aerobic, strength, balance and flexibility. Aerobic exercise increases oxygen consumption and improves lungs, heart and circulatory system function. These exercises produce the greatest health and aging benefits. Strength exercises are generally done with light weights and are designed to build muscles to help make you stronger and more independent.  Balance exercises help prevent falls and other accidents that often lead to disability as people age. Flexibility exercises, which are essentially stretching exercises, can help prevent injury and should be performed prior to aerobic and other types of exercise.

What is the Best Way to Build Endurance?

Endurance aerobic exercises are the most familiar and healthful exercises. Most physical activities that provoke perspiration and cause your heart to beat more frequently qualify. These exercises include walking, jogging, biking and swimming.  When performing endurance exercise, a target heart rate should be monitored for. Please see the table below for proper training guidelines.

Exercise increases endurance. Therefore, exercise intensity and duration should be increased over the lifespan of your routine to maintain target heart rate. In other words, several months of exercise will likely result in a longer, more intense routine to achieve the same heart rate experienced when the routine was initiated.

AgeTarget Heart Rate*
40126 – 153
50119 – 145
60112 – 136
70105 – 128
8098 – 119
9091 – 111
10084 – 102


*Certain medicines and medical conditions may make it impossible to achieve these heart rates.

Have a happy New Year and make no excuses for a resolution that you simply can’t ignore: exercising for your good health.

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Exercise and the aging person

Exercise and the Aging Person

There are numerous benefits of following a regular exercise program - even for individuals who are challenged by such conditions as joint pain, back pain, arthritis, or osteoporosis - or individuals who are recovering from an injury or surgery (i.e., joint replacement, arthroscopy). Exercise has also been shown to be beneficial to people of all ages, as it helps to lower blood pressure, lower the risks of falls and serious injuries (such as hip or wrist fractures), and slow the body's loss of muscle and bone mass.

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