Use it or lose it!

Whether you’re a seasoned marathon runner or just need to get in shape, keeping active can do more than help you maintain a healthy body weight

From staff and wire reports

January 02, 2008 at 11:51 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

New research proves that maintaining physical activity in the middle age leads to better basic physical abilities as we age, and that weight is not a deciding factor.

 A newly-concluded study has revealed a direct link between levels of physical activity in middle age and physical ability later in life - regardless of body weight.

Researchers found that middle-aged people who maintained a reasonable level of physical activity were less likely to become unable to walk distances, climb stairs, maintain their sense of balance, stand from a seated position with their arms folded, or sustain their hand grip as they get older.

The study showed that, among men and women aged 50 to 69 years and across all weight ranges, the rate of decreased physical ability later in life was twice as high among those who were less physically active.

"Exercise in middle age does not just benefit people in terms of weight loss -- it also helps them to remain physically healthy and active later in life," said Dr. Iain Lang, who led the research team which conducted the new study at the Peninsula Medical School in the UK.

Findings showed that being overweight or obese was associated with an overall increased risk of physical impairment but that, regardless of weight, people who engaged in heavy housework or gardening, who played sport or who had a physically active job, were more likely to remain mobile later in life.

Physical activity of about 30 minutes three or more times a week resulted in fewer than 13 per cent of people developing some sort of physical disability, while this rate increased to 24 per cent where subjects were less active.

The research team studied 8,702 participants in a recent US Health and Retirement Study and 1,507 people taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Each subject was followed for up to six years.

So get out there and get moving to help ensure mobility later in life.

HOW TO GET STARTED ON AN EXERCISE PLAN

Sometimes it feels like climbing a mountain would be easier than getting started on an exercise program and sticking to it.

"When starting out, most people have every good intention of staying with an exercise routine to get in shape or lose weight," says Mirabai Holland, a public health advocate and fitness industry veteran. "However, they often get frustrated because it's either too difficult or not tailored to their specific needs."

Here are some tips from Holland on developing a program that you can stick with:

•Start slowly and go at your own pace.

•Choose activities you enjoy.

•Pick a time of day you have time to exercise.

•Write down why you want to exercise and review it often to reinforce your motivation.

•Keep an exercise log to get a feeling of accomplishment and chart your progress.

•Wear comfortable clothing and shoes with good support.

•Exercise with a friend or family member for support.

•Consider professional guidance or try a beginner-level exercise video by a certified teacher.

Many experts advise that you consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.

For more exercise advice, visit Holland's Web site at www.movingfree.com.




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