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Staying in shape can improve your quality of life.
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Many seniors resign themselves to muscle loss and weight gain as inevitable side effects of aging. But you have a lot to say about what happens to your body, and staying active into your senior years packs a lot of powerful benefits. Perhaps one of the biggest is that staying active helps you retain the strength, endurance and balance that you need to live independently. Staying active is also a great way to shed excess body fat at any age, and maintaining that healthy body weight and fitness is a great way to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and other health problems.
Walk for Health
Of all the exercises you can undertake in your senior years, walking is one of the most ideal. It's free, assuming you already have supportive shoes. It's also gentle on your joints, and you can make the workout as easy or as challenging as you like, simply by increasing or decreasing your speed or walking up an incline for an extra challenge. Walking also helps strengthen your muscles and bones, improves your balance, and can even boost your mood - all critical benefits for your quality of life.
Harvard Health Publishing, which is the source for all the calorie figures in this report, estimates that if you weigh 185 pounds, you can burn almost 180 calories in a half-hour of walking at a brisk pace of 3.5 miles per hour.
Enjoy the Water
Water-based exercises are excellent for seniors, too. The water supports your joints, soothing many of the aches and pains that often comes with workouts. But the pool also adds extra resistance to your workout, whether you're water walking, doing aqua aerobics or "lifting weights." (Pool-based workouts use floating weights for resistance, so you end up pressing down against the water instead of up against gravity.) Just like with walking, a 185-pound person can burn just shy of 180 calories in a half-hour of water aerobics.
Include Strength Training
Strength training on dry land is a valuable tool, too. It helps burn fat, torching a little more than 130 calories in 30 minutes for our hypothetical 185-pound person, and building lean muscle mass that burns a few extra calories simply by existing. But that's not all: Lifting weights also strengths your muscles and bones, helping prevent osteoporosis and giving you the strength and endurance you need to retain your independence and high quality of life. If you don't have weights, don't worry. You can use your own body weight for resistance in exercises like wall push-ups and chair dips.
Determine Your Needs
If you're exercising for weight loss, the number of calories you burn can serve as a rough guide. As a general rule, you must burn 3,500 more calories than you take in to lose a pound of body fat. So if you're doing water aerobics, it'd take just shy of 20 half-hour sessions to lose a pound of body fat. That might sound like a lot, but you can boost your calorie burn by doing longer workouts, adding in different types of physical activity that you enjoy, and increasing exercise intensity as you build fitness.
If you're more interested in exercising for general fitness than for weight loss, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that generally fit adults who are 65 or older should get 2ВЅ hours of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise per week, and also include two strength-training sessions per week.