Date: October 1st, 1999
Aerobic Exercise and Weight Training Offer Many Benefits
If you think your softening body is an irreversible byproduct of aging, think again. A regular, long-term exercise program can produce the following list of wonders:
- strengthen the heart and lungs
- stop muscle loss and slow bone loss that begins at about age 40 and accelerates at age 50
- help burn fat faster
- increase strength, stamina, and self-confidence
- improve balance
- lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis
- lessen arthritis pain
- improve sleep
What's more, women between 40 and 65 who walk briskly (20-minute miles or faster) for at least three hours a week, or who exercise vigorously for at least 90 minutes a week, have a 30 to 40 percent reduction in their risk of heart disease according to survey published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The study, which monitored more than 72,000 women, also demonstrated that the more people exercise, the more they reduce their risk of heart disease. For example, walking briskly for five hours a week cuts the risk of heart attacks by 50 percent.
Age No Barrier--Cane Tossing Anyone?
It's never too late to reap the benefits of exercise. People over 70 who have already lost a lot of muscle can firm up and regain strength through regular, high-intensity progressive resistance exercise. Doralie Denenberg Segal heads a government funded exercise demonstration program for people between age 70 and 90 who are stroke survivors or dealing with heart conditions, osteoporosis, or other afflictions. The aim is to improve participants' functional skills; for example, the ease with which they can get in and out of a chair, or their ability to carry groceries or dress themselves. Some people have been able to give up their canes, and most have overcome their fear of falling or hurting themselves. "Over the course of the program, the mood in my class is definitely elevated," Denenberg Segal reports. "The exercise has helped some overcome depression. People who were withdrawn and reticent at first have made new friendships with others in the group. There is a lot of banter in the class now. They go out to lunch together afterwards. People have a whole new outlook. It is wonderful to see!"
An excellent guide to exercise is available from the National Institute On Aging, It explains the four types of exercises that are important for endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. The guide also tells how often you should exercise and for how long, and shows examples of exercises that can be done at home.
An Uplifting Answer To Bone Loss
While aerobic exercise is beneficial for the heart and lungs, it must be combined with weight training in order to prevent bone and muscle loss. Aerobic exercise also poses a problem for many older people who lack the leg strength to walk to the grocery store alone, let alone dance, jog, or walk briskly. They need to build muscle before embarking on an aerobic exercise program.
Doralie Denenberg Segal welcomes hearing from anyone interested in starting a group weight-training program for older adults. Please contact her at: (202)260-9275 p; (202) 260-6537 fax ; or,[email protected]