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Active Seniors

Active Seniors Image - Photo credit Microsoft Today, people are living longer and healthier. Health and fitness experts are always looking for ways to improve and maintain the quality of life for active seniors or "active adults". According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2004, 12 percent of all American were 65 and older. By 2050, people 65 and over will comprise an impressive 21 percent of the U.S. population.

Exercise is an important factor in preventing or slowing down many age-related declines in the physical function of the body, such as, muscle strength, balance, flexibility and bone mineral density. Most active adults age 65 and older can participate safely in regular physical activity, both endurance and strength training. However, this varies for each individual. It is important for seniors to get a medical clearance prior to participating in an exercise program. Approximately 30% of prescription drugs are dispensed and purchased by seniors. Therefore, certain medications, such as diuretics and especially cardiovascular, can have an affect exercise tolerance level. Beta-blockers, for example, may cause slowing of the heartbeat or lowering the blood pressure during exercise. Therefore, consult a physician about the various exercise programs that you are considering to begin as an active adult.

Below are some exercises that active adults should consider as part of their fitness program:

  • Cardio-respiratory (or Aerobic) Conditioning. This includes a low to moderate intensity aerobics class, walking, stationary cycling, swimming and aquatic fitness classes
  • Muscular Strength and Endurance. As people age, there is a reduction in muscle mass and a decrease in bone mineral density. Strengthening exercises utilize a range of fitness equipment such as weight machines, hand-held weights, resistance tubes, elastic bands, and water resistance exercises.
  • Balance and Flexibility. As people age, there is a decrease in mobility with the stiffening of connective tissues and joints. Therefore, the range of motion is limited; posture declines; and problems with maintaining balance. Exercises that can help prevent these issues are Pilates, yoga, tai chi, dancing and walking.

Active adults can receive and respond to the positive, safe and supportive effects of fitness training through a regular exercise program. Physical activity, proper diet and the right attitude contributes to maintaining good health no matter how old you are and it improves the quality of life for better aging results.

For additional information about active adults and fitness exercise, visit these websites:
http://seniorliving.about.com/od/exercisefitnes1/a/4seniorexercise.htm
http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/censusandstatistics/a/olderstats.htm
http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/004210.html