0814OSUexerciselateryearsAU.cfm No age limit for physical activity
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No age limit for physical activity

There is no age limit when it comes to physical activity. Just because a person ages does not mean he or she must become inactive.

The older a person gets, the more important it is to remain as physically active as possible, said Jan Johnston, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension gerontology specialist.

"Individuals who have been physically active throughout their lives should remain active," Johnston said. "Even those who did not exercise on a regular basis can still improve their overall physical fitness. Most seniors, even those with illnesses or disabilities, can take part in a moderate exercise program."

It is important for everyone to keep in mind that regular physical activity will help a person live a life that is full of energy and excitement.

Johnston recommends anyone starting an exercise routine to first check with his or her doctor.

"Unless your doctor advises against it, regular exercise may be even more helpful for some health problems," she said. "If a person was active in their younger years, it's easier to maintain one's physical and mental status."

Regular physical activity can increase muscle tone, heart strength, flexibility, lung strength, efficiency of insulin and longevity.

Exercise tends to decrease heart rate, depression, risk of osteoporosis, social isolation, blood pressure, obesity, body fat, constipation and blood levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Many older people may wonder how to begin an exercise program once they have been given the OK by their physician.

Johnston said there are many types of exercises. One of the simplest forms is walking. This is an activity that is practical and almost anyone can enjoy. Another great benefit is that it is practically free. All a person needs is a good, sturdy pair of walking shoes and a pair of thick athletic socks.

"Many enclosed shopping centers welcome walkers in the mornings before the stores open," she said. "This provides you with a safe environment in which to walk."

Sports clubs, gyms and fitness centers offer other forms of exercise. They may even offer special times or classes geared toward older individuals. Keep in mind there is some sort of fee attached to these venues.

"When it comes to exercise, you have to be your own judge. Choose those exercises which you can handle without overexerting or straining yourself," Johnston said. "Select activities you enjoy so you're more likely to stick to an exercise program."

Individuals who may have physical limitations can still participate in various activities. Try sitting in a chair and lifting one-pound hand weights. If you do not have hand weights, lift 16-ounce cans of vegetables. Even a little bit of extra weight can add resistance and help build muscle tone.

Keep in mind that exercise does not have to mean only jogging or aerobics. Golf and bowling are great forms of physical activity.

"These types of activities are not only beneficial from a health standpoint, but they also increase your social life as well," she said. "A balance of activity that increases your heart rate, coupled with social physical activities, can lead to a program most older citizens can stick to for a healthy lifestyle."

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