How To Stay Healthy As You Age: Diet Part III

To see the first two articles in this series How To Stay Healthy As You Age: Nutrition

How To Stay Healthy As You Age: Diet

Pablo F. Soto, M.D., instructor in medicine in the Cardiovascular Division, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has this to say: "Past research has suggested that exercise can reverse some effects of aging, and we wanted to see what effect it would have specifically on the heart." A study or runners by Stanford University School of Medicine, California showed that runners surveyed over a 21 year period had 15% surveyed who died, as compared to 34% of control subjects. The average age at the beginning of the study was 51. Clearly, exercise leads to longer life and better health. We discuss exercise and its benefits to seniors here.

How To Begin?

Common sense tells us that a senior who has been inactive for a lot of years isn’t going out to run the Boston Marathon. For one thing, our muscles atrophy from lack of use, and must be rebuilt over time. One of the best forms of exercise for seniors is walking. Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, led by kinesiology professor Edward McAuley, indicated positive psychosocial and cognitive outcomes for seniors who started a randomized regimen of both stretching/toning exercise and walking. The group continued with the activities because of the positive effects on both energy levels and quality of life. The study, which is considered unique, showed that there was also a very positive effect on self-esteem and was a good aid against depression. Even such activities as gardening, mowing lawn and cleaning house are top activities for seniors who are sedentary.

Good Resources

One of the best resources for fitness and exercise is Spark People, an online website that provides a ton of information with everything from diet, exercise and motivation techniques. One of the things I do for exercise is a routine using the popular “resistance bands” available today. These bands come in a variety of tensile strengths, and are one of the best ways I know of to begin an exercise regimen. On Spark People, you will find videos and tutorials to help you get started with them. The beauty of this type of exercise is that even if you are wheelchair bound, or have issues with walking and cannot use a treadmill, you are still provided with a means to exercise. Check out Spark People for more information.

In Conclusion

How many times do we here as seniors it is all about “diet and exercise?” Like it or not, it’s true. Because we live longer, thanks to medication and technology, we need to plan on enjoying that extra time. Too many seniors spend helpless days with no quality of life, in bouts of depression, and shuttling back and forth to the doctor’s office. If we simply take a few minutes out of our day and exercise, whether it is with resistance bands, an exercise ball, or a subscription to a gym, the main thing to do is just do it.

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.