Keeping Fit into the "Golden Years"

Expert advice from Dr. Judith Black, medical director for Senior Markets at Highmark Inc.
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Americans are living longer and are in better physical condition than their predecessors because today's senior citizens are more aware of the need to remain physically active into their "Golden Years." Whether you are a senior yourself or you are looking for ways to help the seniors in your life live longer, healthier lives, it is important to remember that physical fitness can benefit people of all ages and physical conditions.

Successful exercise programs for seniors generally fall into four main categories: 

>>Endurance

>>Strength

>>Balance

>>Flexibility

By finding activities that incorporate attention to each of these areas, seniors will see benefits in every area of their life, even if they have had an inactive lifestyle previously.

Exercise benefits everyone, but in some ways, older adults have even more to gain when they make a decision to get fit and create their routines to stay fit. Lowered risk for heart disease, arthritis and high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels have been linked to physical fitness. Managing and treating or preventing other diseases like breast and colon cancer and osteoporosis also have been connected to one's overall fitness. 

Everyone is different, but your doctor will know your medical condition and history as well as any limitations you may have. By discussing the degree and intensity of the exercise program, together you can agree on what has the potential to work best.

Seniors should start slowly to discover a comfort threshold and then increase from there. Finding a buddy to work out with makes things even more fun. This workout partner could be a friend or family member or you can join an organized fitness program like SilverSneakers  to keep motivated and to establish a routine that will not only make you feel better overall, but will give you something to look forward to each day or week. SilverSneakers membership is often available through Medicare Advantage health insurance plans. Check with your health insurer to see if you're eligible.