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Originally published Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 6:17 AM

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Why you need to keep exercising past age 50

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, even adults 65 and older should aim to exercise four to five days per week for approximately 20 to 45 minutes at a time.


Special to The Seattle Times

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On fitness

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop.” — George Bernard Shaw

Many think that as you age you need to slow down. Take it easy.

It comes from the long-ingrained fear that the older you are, the more fragile your body is and you need to do your best not to break it. While I will agree that you are indeed precious cargo, it has nothing to do with your age. In fact, exercise is arguably more important the older you get. Regardless of age, everyone needs to exercise.

When someone tells you something often enough, you start to believe it. Thankfully, you do not need to buy into the self-defeating idea that old age means giving up the activities you once loved.

If you don’t move it, you’ll lose it, plain and simple: your balance, coordination, muscle and bone strength. Despite what you may think, those don’t rapidly deteriorate with age, they deteriorate from nonuse.

If you don’t have any medical conditions that affect exercise, you should not be hanging up your sneakers just yet.

One in five women over the age of 50 will develop osteoporosis — a loss of bone density. Strength training, like lifting weights and body-weight exercises, cannot only slow the effects of osteoporosis, but reverse it. Resistance training, even with just your own body weight, can also improve balance, strength and coordination, allowing older adults to stay independent.

Cardiovascular activities that raise the heart rate will break up cholesterol deposits, lowering heart-attack risk rather than raising it, like most seem to think.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, adults 65 and older should aim to exercise four to five days per week for approximately 20 to 45 minutes at a time.

Check with your doctor, naturally, before starting an exercise program. Even if you haven’t been a consistent exerciser before you reach senior status, it’s never too late to start.

Age doesn’t mean you need to slow down. Exercise improves your health, so keep at it as long as you can, to ensure you live your life to the fullest.

Kelly Turner is a freelance fitness writer. Follow her on Twitter @KellyTurnerFit.



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