By Donald Arson

For a pleasurable retirement, the secret is senior fitness. Many Gerontologists, who study physical, mental and social changes in people as they age, say that the average senior is happier and healthier if they maintain a steady physical exercise program.

Most seniors know that aerobic activity is important for heart health but they neglect the fact that even at advanced age strength training is still needed. Along with that, many seniors who do regularly perform aerobic activity don’t take the time to stretch before each workout leading to increased injuries.

A fit and active 75 year old can be as strong and athletic as an unfit 35 year old. According to one report, an active person will physically decline by only about ½% a year compared to a sedimentary person who will decline by almost a full 2%. This is because we lose 3% – 5% of our muscle mass every decade, after about our 40th birthday, we can still continue to increase muscle strength and speed with regular exercise.

Being a fit senior can even improve your mood. Research has shown that 14% -18% of seniors are depressed. It has been shown that a regular fitness activity can even give close to the same effect as antidepressant medication, without the negative side-effects.

Even the simple act of walking can greatly increase your happiness during retirement. In a Honolulu Heart Program study the death rate of men who walked one mile or less was almost twice that of seniors who walked more than two miles per day. Another study conducted between 1990 and 2001 showed that senior’s who walked over 30 minutes a day had few deaths during the time frame than those who did not.

Even if you’re currently out of a shape or haven’t worked out in years, a custom program can be designed for you by a senior physical fitness expert. Don’t try to make up for years of not exercising in one day. Start slowly and work your way up, for example: Start walking and build your time up 5 minutes a day one week, 10 minutes a day the next so on and so on, and when you get bored walking start speed walking using the same time frames. Walk, Speed walk, Jog, Run – Don’t just start running. Starting quick can injure you or even make it so you’re burned out and no longer want to work out.

Remember you’re “only as old as you feel” and being a fit senior will help you feel young.

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