MENU

Exercise while aging: focus on strength, balance, flexibility, endurance

DoNZTtwUcAE35S4.jpg
As we get older, hitting the gym might sound like something that's going to hurt, with joint-pounding exercise. But you have options that can do great things for your health without that pain. (KOMO News){ }

SEATTLE--You've heard the saying, "no pain, no gain." And as we get older, hitting the gym might sound like something that's going to hurt with joint-pounding exercise. But you have options that can do great things for your health without that pain.

When Peggy Kirmeyer wanted to get more exercise, she was after something low impact. "I'm getting close to 70 and the body is not quite what it was 35 years ago," she said. She and her friends started regular yoga lessons. "We started doing yoga because we felt, I felt, I needed some strength and balance," Kirmeyer said.

Strength and balance are important to prevent falls, and that's a serious health concern, starting in middle age. The CDC says millions of people fall each year, causing serious injuries or even death. Exercise - in particular, recent studies show Tai Chi - helps significantly.

"Even in late life, people can benefit greatly from actually starting. It's never too late to start a balance program for example," said Dr. Elizabeth Phelan is director of the Fall Prevention Clinic at UW Medicine Harborview.

In addition to strength and balance, the National Institute on Aging recommends people focus on flexibility and endurance, as part of the Go4Life program.

Regular exercise could get people off their medications. "For people who are experiencing chronic conditions like high blood pressure for example, diabetes. Exercise is critical for helping control those conditions," said Dr. Phelan.

Walking might be one of the easiest ways to get that heart healthy, calorie burning exercise, but there are plenty of other options including tennis to dancing. Jim Chow of the Belltown Dance Studio see clients of all ages at Zumba and BollyX Fitness classes. "It's good for the memory," Chow said. "So keep you fit on your mind as well as your physical. Coordination. I highly recommend dancing for everybody."

Experts say the key is simply to find a form of exercise you like so you'll stick with it. A stronger heart, healthier lungs, weight control and better emotional health could be the bonuses of doing something you enjoy.

More To Explore