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Exercise and the aging person

Leading a sedentary lifestyle, particularly in your later years, creates a vicious cycle of chronic illness and diseases such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or obesity. These conditions tend to lead to an even more sedentary lifestyle which then increases the risk of disease and so on. These health problems and the increased risk of injury may be well managed with regular exercise. Although older adults are more prone to overuse and other injuries, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks. Nearly all people experience improvements in physical, cognitive, and psychosocial function when they undertake regular exercise.

The National Council on Aging recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular, or aerobic activity five days per week with strength training twice weekly. For most active, older Americans, this is enough exercise to improve muscle function, decrease body fat, and improve overall health. It is important that an exercise routine includes both types of activity. Aerobic exercise supports heart and lung health, while strength training supports muscle, bone, and connective tissue health. Combined, they promote an overall healthy body.

Patients with osteoarthritis or other conditions that cause musculoskeletal pain may be more sedentary than others and may not be able to easily meet the recommended exercise guidelines. Those who suffer from painful joints or other types of pain may still benefit from regular physical activity. It helps to select activities that minimize stress on the joints. Swimming, bicycling, or using an elliptical trainer can also help alleviate joint stress while allowing a person to get in a good workout.

Before undertaking an exercise plan, undergo a health screening to ensure that your plan is right for you and takes into consideration any pre-existing health conditions you may have. Because most injuries in older adults occur in the legs, feet, or ankles, the podiatrists at Kansas City Foot Specialists are a good place to start. Call us today at (913) 338-4440 to schedule an appointment.