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On Aging Well: Increased Activity Protects Your Physical and Mental Health

By HERWriter
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Fitness related image Photo: Getty Images

Research from the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston confirmed what many of us already suspected.

Older folk enjoy better health if they engage in regular physical activity.

Subjects who were more active had less chronic disease and mental impairment later in life.

The January 25, 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine published research that concurs with these observations.

If you're young, healthy and energetic, you may wonder what this has to do with you. Thirty years ago I'd have wondered the same thing.

But that's the one thing about time that doesn't change. Everything living ages. So if you're still young, even though you can't imagine that this will ever apply to you ... it will. Shelve this in your memory banks for later.

Back to us oldsters. The question arises, then, what changes should we make? The good news for those of you who have always been active is that you can just keep doing what you're doing. If you can increase a little, in length of workouts or walks, in frequency, or in the weight of your dumbbells, even better.

I turn now to the couch potatoes. And the women who were girls who could eat anything, do nothing and still look gorgeous.

The body can be wonderfully adaptive in the early years. Seems like no matter what we do to it, a young healthy body usually manages to take whatever we dish out and run smoothly in spite of us.

By menopause things may begin to change. Attention is needed -- for the foods you eat, for the amount of sleep you get, for your physical activity level.

Mind you, there is a pay-off to all this effort. More physical exercise means better cardiovascular health, better musculature, greater bone density and a clearer mind.

Aerobic activity like swimming, biking, jogging and dancing -- and don't forget housework! -- will make you breathe deeper and get your heart pumping harder. Twenty minutes to half an hour a day of aerobics can bring you to a healthier level.

Weight training exercise prevents muscle and bone loss. If you can't afford a gym, use free weights at home.

Add a Comment1 Comments

im 52 years old and i started training 7 years ago and i wish i had started earlier. i am fitter stronger and healthier now then when i was younger. my fitness has also helped me to cope with the pain of ATN

March 18, 2011 - 1:36am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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