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Fitness and Exercise

NIH – NIA Exercise and Physical Activity: Getting Fit For Life “Four Ways to Be Active To get all of the benefits of physical activity, try all four types of exercise – 1) endurance, 2) strength, 3) balance, and 4) flexibility. 1. Be sure to get at least 30 minutes of activity that makes you breathe hard on most or all days of the week. That’s called an endurance activity because it builds your energy or “staying power.” You don’t have to be active for 30 minutes all at once. Ten minutes at a time is fine. Just make sure you are active for a total of 30 minutes most days. How hard do you need to push yourself? If you can talk without any trouble at all, you are not working hard enough. If you can’t talk at all, it’s too hard. 2. Keep using your muscles. Strength exercises build muscles. When you have strong muscles, you can get up from a chair by yourself, you can lift your grandchildren, and you can walk through the park Keeping your muscles in shape helps prevent falls that cause problems like broken hips. You are less likely to fall when your leg and hip muscles are strong 3. Do things to help your balance. Try standing on one foot, then the other. If you can, don’t hold on to anything for support. Get up from a chair without using your hands or arms. Every now and then walk heel-to-toe. When you walk this way, the toes of the foot in back should almost touch the heel of the foot in front. 4. Stretch. Stretching can help you be more flexible. Moving more freely will make it easier for you to reach down to tie your shoes or look over your shoulder when you back the car out of your driveway. Stretch when your muscles are warmed up. Don’t stretch so far that it hurts. Who Should Exercise? Almost anyone, at any age, can do some type of physical activity. You can still exercise even if you have a health condition like heart disease or diabetes. In fact, physical activity may help. For most older adults, brisk walking, riding a bike, swimming, weight lifting, and gardening are safe, especially if you build up slowly. But, check with your doctor if you are over 50 and you aren’t used to energetic activity. Other reasons to check with your doctor before you exercise include: 1. any new symptom you haven’t discussed with your doctor 2. dizziness or shortness of breath 3. chest pain or pressure, or the feeling that your heart is skipping, racing, or fluttering 4. blood clots 5. an infection or fever with muscle aches 6. unplanned weight loss 7. foot or ankle sores that won’t heal 8. joint swelling 9. a bleeding or detached retina, eye surgery, or laser treatment 10. a hernia 11. recent hip surgery “

NHS - Why be active? “Exercise is a great stress buster. It can help you keep the weight off but, more importantly, it will lower your risk of developing major chronic diseases. At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on five or more days a week is all it takes for you to reap the health benefits. Children and young people need to be active for at least an hour every day, for example through active play, sport or walking to and from school. We know that reduced or no physical activity can have serious health consequences. Even a little bit of activity can lower the risk of developing major chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, some cancers and type two diabetes, by up to 50%. It can also cut the risk of premature death by about 20% to 30%. “

NHS – Low-impact exercise “Low-impact exercises can improve your health and fitness without harming weight-bearing joints. Research suggests that moderate intensity, low-impact activity is just as effective as high-impact activity in lowering the risk of heart disease. However, low-impact activities won’t help to maintain healthy bones to protect against conditions such as osteoporosis. Circumstances when high-impact exercise isn’t advisable include: • If you're pregnant. • If you have injured your joints, bones or connective tissue injuries. • If you have chronic problems, such as arthritis, osteoporisis or stress fractures. • If you're very overweight. • If you’re new to exercise. “Low-impact exercise doesn’t put the joints under much stress,” says Robin Gargrave, executive director of YMCAfit, one of the UK’s leading trainers of fitness professionals. “The idea is that it’s less likely to cause an impact-type injury, such as an ankle sprain or cartilage tear.” “

Highlighted Articles

Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. (Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008) “Lack of physical activity, particularly among children in the developed world, is one of the major causes of obesity. Exercise might not only help to improve their physical health, but might also improve their academic performance. This article examines the positive effects of aerobic physical activity on cognition and brain function, at the molecular, cellular, systems and behavioural levels. A growing number of studies support the idea that physical exercise is a lifestyle factor that might lead to increased physical and mental health throughout life.”

Rethinking Daily Exercise: Less Regular, High-Intensity Intervals May Be Best Bet for Metabolic Syndrome (2008) “According to the Norwegian investigators who tested two different exercise regimens, high-intensity exercise actually reversed most of the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome; after just 16 weeks of the exercise program, almost half the patients enrolled in this arm of the trial no longer had metabolic syndrome, without making any changes to their diets. Less impressive gains were seen with consistent, moderate exercise.”

Physical Activity and Public Health in Older Adults. Recommendation From the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association (Circulation 2007) "Summary—The recommendation for older adults is similar to the updated ACSM/AHA recommendation for adults, but has several important differences including: the recommended intensity of aerobic activity takes into account the older adult’s aerobic fitness; activities that maintain or increase flexibility are recommended; and balance exercises are recommended for older adults at risk of falls. In addition, older adults should have an activity plan for achieving recommended physical activity that integrates preventive and therapeutic recommendations. The promotion of physical activity in older adults should emphasize moderate-intensity aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening activity, reducing sedentary behavior, and risk management."

Even Small Amounts of Exercise Are Beneficial (2007) "Even small amounts of physical activity — approximately 75 minutes per week — can improve cardiorespiratory fitness levels of sedentary overweight individuals, a study shows. While this level of exercise is lower than that currently recommended to produce weight loss, the current findings may be used to encourage those people who do not exercise at present to start doing some form of physical activity, the authors advise."

Internet Sites

CDC - Growing Stronger - Strength Training for Older Adults

NIH - Exercise for Older Adults (Videos)

NIH - Exercise and Physical Fitness

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Fitness and Exercise

General Information


A Little Running Goes a Long Way: Mortality Benefit at Just Six Miles per Week

Exercise and the heart: unmasking Mr Hyde

Exercise is the best medicine, study shows

Is It Possible to Exercise Too Much?

Marathon Training Might Boost Heart Health

Physical Activity and Health: What Is the Best Dose?

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Reducing Sedentary Time May Protect DNA

The Exercise Detraining Effect

Too Much Exercise: Studies Report J-Shaped Link Between Exercise and CVD Risks

Too Much Running Tied to Shorter Lifespan, Studies Find


13 Reasons To Start Lifting Weights


Acute Aerobic Exercise Increases Cortical Activity during Working Memory: A Functional MRI Study in Female College Students. (PLoS One. 2014)

Breaking up prolonged sitting with light-intensity walking improves postprandial glycemia, but breaking up sitting with standing does not. (J Sci Med Sport. 2014)

Evidence of Disturbed Sleep and Increased Illness in Overreached Endurance Athletes (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2014)

Life-long endurance running is associated with reduced glycation and mechanical stress in connective tissue. (Age (Dordr). 2014)

Loading dose of physical activity is related to muscle strength and bone density in middle-aged women. (Bone. 2014 )

Long-term intense resistance training in men is associated with preserved cardiac structure/function, decreased aortic stiffness, and lower central augmentation pressure. (J Hypertens. 2014)

Physical Activity Offsets the Negative Effects of a High-fructose Diet (Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014)

Physical activity, obesity and risk of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged men during a median of 30 years of follow-up. (Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2015)


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