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I'm 54 Years Old; How Can I Keep Fit?

By Lisa M. Wolfe

Staying in shape as you get older is not complicated. You can reduce your risk of age-related health issues such as high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, weight gain, osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Daily exercise is a strong defense against an unhealthy lifestyle. Exercise also helps to prevent the natural slowing of metabolism that occurs as you age. As you get older, you lose 1/2 percent in your basal metabolic rate every year. With exercise, you can keep your metabolism working for you and not against you.

Walk, run, swim, bike, skate, dance or row your way to cardiovascular health by participating in an activity that increases your heart rate for at least 30 minutes each day, five days a week. This will decrease blood pressure and your risk of heart disease, especially paired with reducing your sodium intake according to your doctor's recommendations.

Increase your metabolism by participating in strength training activities at least twice a week. Lift weights such as dumbbells or barbells eight to 12 times per session. Strengthen your major muscle groups with movements such as pushups, situps, squats and pullups if you do not have access to strength training equipment.

Improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling, especially if you have arthritis, by performing balance exercises daily. Stand on one foot, walk heel to toe, and lift one leg at a time to the side as you balance on the opposite leg.

Perform weight-bearing activities such as walking, jogging, playing tennis, basketball or volleyball, dancing or climbing stairs so that you are carrying the weight of your body as you exercise. Weight-bearing activities help reduce your risk for osteoporosis. Eat calcium-rich foods such as low-fat dairy, salmon and green leafy vegetables to strengthen your bones.

Tips

Schedule exercise in to your day and keep that appointment.

Reduce your cancer risk by eating fruits and vegetables daily.

Beyond following a nutritious diet, lower your cancer risk further by avoiding tobacco products. Use sunscreen to avoid sunburn.

Keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range and reduce your risk for diabetes by eating a low-fat diet with a variety of foods. Eat lean meats, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products every day.

Visit your doctor yearly. Request annual blood tests, blood pressure checks, determine body weight, and cancer screening tests such as pap tests, skin screenings, breast exams and prostate exams. Early detection is key to survival.

Warnings

Avoid overtraining your muscles, which can discourage you from exercise. Allow for a day of rest in between strength training workouts.

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