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Seniors Need 150 minutes of Exercise per Week for Good Health

July 21, 2010

Avis Mortemore, Marlyn Akiona, Wayne "Big Dog" Joseph and Lois Shimizu

    HSTA-R Big Island Chapter is taking the lead in promoting health and fitness to seniors.  Above photo shows, left to right, officers, from secretary, vice president, president and treasurer.

   According to the CDC, adults need to engage in at least 2½ hours (150 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity to achieve substantial health benefits. Examples include brisk walking (3 miles per hour), bicycle riding (less than 10 miles per hour), ballroom dancing, or general gardening. Indeed, aerobic activities that keep you moving are integral to an anti-aging lifestyle. Let’s review some of the wide-ranging benefits of physical activity; then get up and get moving with some physical activity of your own!

1. Help Your Heart. Richard V. Milani, from the Ochsner Clinic Foundation, and colleagues investigated how psychosocial stress influences the effects of exercise training. The team followed 522 cardiac patients, including 53 who had high stress levels and 27 control patients who had high stress levels but did not engage in cardiac rehabilitation. The study subjects were offered 12 weeks of exercise classes consisting of 10 minutes of warm-up, 30 to 40 minutes of aerobic exercise (walking, rowing, jogging, or similar), and then a 10-minute cooldown stretch. The researchers found that the subjects who became physically fitter during the study period (by exercising) were 60 percent less likely to die in the following six years.
2. Grow Brain Cells. David J. Creer, from the National Institute on Aging, and colleagues studied the underlying mechanisms dictating how exercise improves information processing. The researchers prompted adult mice to uses running wheels, finding that doing so increased their number of brain cells and enabled them to perform better at spatial learning tests compared to mice that did not exercise. The exercising mice were better able to tell the difference between the locations of two adjacent identical stimuli, an ability that the team found to be closely linked to an increase in new brain cell growth in the hippocampus portion of the brain.
3. Build Strong Bones. Wolfgang Kemmler, from Freidrich-Alexander University (Germany), and colleagues analyzed data on 246 older women who were enrolled in the Senior Fitness and Prevention (SEFIP) Study. The researchers found that women who exercised had higher bone density in their spine and hip, and also had a 66 percent reduced rate of falls. Fractures due to falls were twice as common in the controls versus the exercise group (12 vs. six incidents). The authors’ conclusion: “Compared with a general wellness program, our 18-month exercise program significantly improved [bone mineral density] and fall risk.”
4. Stress a Little Less. Matthew P. Herring, from the University of Georgia, and colleagues analyzed the results of 40 randomized clinical trials involving nearly 3,000 patients with a variety of chronic medical conditions, including heart disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer and chronic pain from arthritis. The researchers found that, on average, patients who exercised regularly reported a 20 percent reduction in anxiety symptoms compared to those who did not exercise.

   So take some advice from the experts, starting today: Get up and get moving! As the research presented in this article suggests, consistent physical activity has profound health and wellness benefits that you deserve to enjoy. Your doctor can help evaluate your current fitness/activity level and outline a fun, energizing and health promoting exercise routine to keep you healthy and happy day after day and year after year.

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