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Physical fitness

It’s common sense to look after our health as the years go by.  Good health goes a long way to helping us enjoy the increase in longevity predicted for our generation.  31-12-2009

Consider the medical and physical benefits we can hope to experience if we are fit.
• Improved circulation and digestion
• Stronger heart
• Increased flexibility
• Stronger bones
• Improved relaxation
• Improved shape
• Stronger muscles
• Improved co-ordination
• Controlled weight
• Sense of well-being
• Increased confidence
 Fitness is all about being able to do the things we want to do.   To be fit is a necessitty if we are to enjoy life, not just an option.  Our individual level of fitness will depend on our personal lifestyle, interests and the commitment we have to looking after our health.  

So just how physically fit are we?   The 1992 Carnegie Enquiry into the health of people in Britain between the ages of 50 and 74 years of age found, and I quote "many too unfit to benefit fully from the recent gain in life expectancy.   Half the population is overweight and 1 in 20, twice as many as in 1980, are obese.”   It goes on to say "if they moved about, walked and climbed stairs for a total of 60 minutes per day, they would be fitter, healthier and enjoy a more active and independent lifestyle".   It continued "for those who get it right there may be a decrease of some ability in their 60's, others later, and some, not at all.   Many enter advanced old age still performing at the level of younger adults"   This doesn't surprise me at in the least when I look at the increasing number of inactive Couch Potato children.

So how much exercise should we older adults people need todo to keep us physically fit?   Well here again the guidelines are changing.   For over 10 years the Health Education Authority (now the health Development Agency) had recommended: three, twenty minute sessions of exercise each week, which contained a section 10- 20 minutes of vigorous bursts of energy (aerobic exercise).  Examples of these are running, step aerobics, exercise to music, squash or circuit training.   But sadly this policy and its guidelines failed to persuade the majority of the great British public to take regular exercise.   Of course the sporty ones continued to exercise as they had done before, and have done since, but the policy wasn’t attractive to the average man and woman who thought the idea of aerobic exercise, all too exhausting!   Fortunately for many the Health Education Authority revised their recommendations a few years ago, and now encourage us to take a half an hour of moderate physical activity five times a week in order to keep ourselves fit.   This amount of activity can significantly improve health and well being, and includes activities such as table tennis, golf, keep fit classes, aqua aerobics, brisk walking, dancing, gardening or DIY.   All activities, which eventually if they are done for long enough, make us feel warm and slightly out of breath.   These latest guidelines are sensible and attainable, and surely most of us should be able to aspire to them without too much trouble?

Despite the fact that older people have an increased awareness of the importance of being physically fit, only limited numbers participate in enough exercise, which is appropriate to maintaining physical independence as the years go by.   The National Fitness Survey found that the majority of people weren't helping themselves maintain their good health, although these same people perceived themselves to be fit.   It was only when they were put to the test that they were found not to be!    Only 34% of those aged 55 to 64 years of age, and even less than 23% of those aged 65 to 74, attempted to be active enough in their everyday lives.   The survey went on to show that in the 55 to 64 age group 30% of men and 51% of women were not fit enough to walk at a normal pace.   And if that wasn't bad enough, the figures rose to 45% of men and 79% of women who were unable to walk normally in the 65 to 74 age bracket!    But even worse was the fact that the survey showed that in the 65 – 74 year old age bracket 30% of the men, and a staggering 56% of the women, didn't have sufficient strength in their major leg muscles (the quadriceps) to even get up from a chair unaided.   This rendered them physically dependent on others.

We need do all we can to help ourselves maintain physical independence, and one significant, but simple way is by including more activity in our everyday lives.   The earlier good habits are started the more benefit will be felt as the years roll past.   We must take, and we must make, the opportunity to be more active anytime, anywhere and anyplace.   We can make a start with simple things like taking the dog for a walk.   By using the stairs instead of the lifts, or walking to the shops and the pub instead of taking the car.   Only then can we look forward to enjoying many more years of ACTIVE life.   So try to take more regular moderate exercise, and why not persuade your friends or family to join you?   The trick is to do an activity that gives you, pleasure, then you will discover that being active actually boosts your energy levels.   When we exercise, the body releases chemicals called endorphins which gives us a “feel good” factor. The circulation gets going, improving our heart and lung efficiency.   Exercise and being active makes our complexion glow and our minds more alert.   Being inactive is a major risk factor in older age.

Copyright and thanks to Diana Moran http://primetimelife.tv

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