Fit Bits: Consistent exercise for long-term health

11/30/2007 8:00:00 AM

As we age, we notice that our physiology begins to change. For us men the afternoon basketball games, touch football, tennis or even golf has its consequences of aches and pains after these sometimes intense sessions.

At this point it is apparent that our fitness needs have changed. As middle age creeps up on us, our metabolism slows and the fat begins to accumulate around our midsection, threatening the heart and other organs as well. It is up to us to take charge and make the necessary changes in our lifestyle to stay fit and healthy.

We can start by eating sensibly, stretching before and after exercise, and being more aware of some of the simplest tasks, such as getting in and out of chairs. This sounds silly, but some of these tasks can be challenging as we age. In our 20's and 30's, few of us bothered with warming up or stretching before exercise or physical activity and frankly it wasn't necessary. But as we age we are not as flexible. Being aware of this can help reduce injuries.

For women, the aging process is somewhat unique in that the physiological changes require specific exercise programs to combat osteoporosis that often occurs after menopause. Since men don't have these warning signs, we often push ourselves until we pull or sprain something to bring us back to reality.

This is where the consistency comes into play.

One study published recently found that men that exercise regularly and stayed physically active had much stronger immune systems ... not to mention they cut their risk factor for heart disease in half. This exercise should consist of not only resistance training with weights but two to three 30 minute sessions, per week, of aerobic training. This will indeed help prepare us for those intense basketball, cycling, or softball games.

Developing a consistent workout that includes both cardio and strength training will keep your muscles strong and your weight down. Men typically gain weight in the abdominal area which puts us at higher risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Men and women in their 60's and 70's should gear their workouts more towards functionality or real world situations, like climbing stairs, standing from a sitting position, bending, stooping and stretching to retrieve objects.

One other thing that I would like to touch upon is that even though men typically experience far less bone loss as we age than women do, it could still be a serious issue. So gents, pick up those weights and do some resistance training to stay strong and more agile.

Until next time this is your e-fitness coach Bill Oberding reminding you to exercise, eat balanced meals, maintain a positive attitude and be fit for life.


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