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Regular exercise could keep age-related ailments at bay

May 25, 2012

Seniors in retirement communities know the importance of socializing with one another, and some may want to consider taking up exercise classes together or going on group walks, as new research further shows the various benefits of physical fitness.

According to U.S. News and World Report, older adults who exercise were shown to delay or prevent many of the ailments that affect their peers during the aging process. Researchers point to exercise helping to prevent such conditions as arthritis, dementia, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes and depression.

"There's compelling data that older individuals participating in exercise programs show dramatic improvement in function and abilities," Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise in San Diego, told the news provider.

The source reports that some forms of ailments that were once attributed to getting older are now being categorized as a risk for those who are inactive. Still, researchers are concerned because despite the wide-known benefits of exercise, the majority of people over the age of 65 do not get the recommended amount of physical fitness that they should for their age group.

For those who have not been active in the past but are looking to work on their fitness in their later years, researchers say they may be doing themselves a great service. The news provider notes that studies have indicated seniors who were once sedentary and then started exercising actually experience more gains than people who have been working out at a steady pace for a while.

Being active doesn't necessarily mean joining a gym - there are plenty of ways to stay fit while at an independent living community. According to the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Aging (NIA), physical activity can be a part of everyday life. Even while doing simple chores such as raking the leaves or gardening, seniors are still exerting energy.

The NIA reports there are four types of exercises that seniors can try - endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Seniors should try and work their way up to do at least 30 minutes of exercise that makes them breathe harder, several days out of the week. Strength training can include anything from going for a walk to picking up a grandchild. Seniors can work on their balance by simply standing on one foot without holding anything for support, if they're still able to do this. Stretching the muscles will help seniors stay flexible, improving their mobility.