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Exercises that combine aerobic and strength-building elements becoming popular

March 14, 2013

Physical activity is a vital component of healthy aging, and seniors should not only focus on how much they exercise but also on adding some variety to their routines. Recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggest that adults 65 and older should add two days of strength building activities to 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. These guidelines have spurred an increased focus on combining the two varieties of exercise, and researchers from Wichita State University are hoping to provide seniors with an easy way to do so, reports The New York Times.

A study conducted by two researchers from the school's Center for Physical Activity and Aging utilized a specially designed treadmill outfitted with a console meant to exercise the muscles in users' arms. Combining the activity of walking on the belt while targeting the arms may help seniors - some of whom may not live particularly active lifestyles - work their way up to the activity recommendations from the HHS.

"If you're sedentary and you start doing everything the guidelines recommend, that's a big change in lifestyle," study leader Dr. Michael Rogers told the Times. "We were interested in looking at how we can make that transition a little easier."

While the study's findings aren't expected to be released until sometime later this year, they underscore the important role a diverse exercise routine plays in a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Strength training can play a significant part in fall prevention, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Specifically, strength exercises help seniors improve their balance and gait - two key components of preventing falls.