* The Auxiliary of The Atlas Senior Center / The Department of Family Support Services

Unless you have a health problem that could be made worse by exercise (check with
your doctor before starting an exercise program), you are never too old to start
exercising. Begin slowly, build gradually and seek guidance from your doctor, exercise
instructor or personal trainer.


Much research supports the connection between regular physical activity and
psychological well-being. Exercise helps prevent and treat depression. People who
exercise regularly report feeling stronger, more energetic and more capable. Exercise
helps relieve stress and improve quality of life. It has been said that while exercise
mayor may not add years to your life, it will certainly add life to your years.


People used to think that you can't teach old muscles new exercise tricks. Not so! It is
now known that old muscles do respond to strength training by becoming larger and
stronger. Strength training refers to exercise that requires your muscles to exert a force
against some form of resistance, such as weights, elastic tubing, water or the weight of
your body, as in pushups.

The trick is to work fairly hard but not so hard as to cause an injury, such as a pulled
muscle. A class or personal trainer may be helpful for beginners. Performing strengthtraining
exercises two to three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes yields terrific results.
Muscles and joints become stronger, daily activities feel easier, and balance improves,
helping to prevent falls that can lead to broken bones. What about flexibility? Many
people find that their flexibility improves a little when they begin to exercise. Add five or
10 minutes of stretching exercises at the end of your exercise session for even more


Endurance exercise (also called aerobic exercise) and, to some extent, strength
training, improves cardiovascular health and helps control several disorders that
increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Aerobic exercise refers to activities such
as brisk walking or swimming that raise your metabolic rate for at least 10 minutes.
These activities "stress" the muscles, bones and joints (the physiological systems that
produce movement), the heart, blood vessels and lungs, and the other systems
responsible for oxygen delivery and energy production. These systems respond to the
stress of exercise by becoming stronger and healthier.

With endurance exercise, people with high blood pressure often see some reduction in
both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Blood sugar regulation improves, thus
decreasing risk for type II diabetes or improving blood sugar control for people already
diagnosed with diabetes. Exercise helps increase HDL cholesterol (the "good" kind) in
the bloodstream, and helps lower blood triglycerides. Blood becomes less likely to form
the kinds of clots that lead to heart attack or stroke inside the blood vessels. Regular
exercise also burns calories and helps reduce excess body fat, especially when
combined with a nutritious, low-fat diet. Regular exercise helps reduce the amount of fat
stored inside the abdominal area. Excess fat in this location increases risk for diabetes,
high blood pressure and heart disease.
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