Medical Reading

Exercising When You're Older

November 09, 2017

No matter how well you take care of yourself, it's not realistic to think your body can do at 65 what it did at 45 or even 55. That doesn't mean you should reduce physical activities. It does mean you'll need to modify your expectations.

How your body changes -- As you age, the maximum pumping capacity of your heart declines, resulting in less oxygen to exercising muscles and a decrease in your cardiovascular fitness. Your muscles lose some strength and mass and become less flexible, as do your tendons and joints. It takes longer to recover from a muscle strain, sprain, trauma or injury.

The March issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource says that by staying physically active, you can help minimize nearly all of these effects of aging. But the physical activities you choose as you age will likely change.

This isn't to say you should reduce your physical activity. It means modifying your activities to accommodate change. For example, if you've been a jogger most of your life, you may need to switch to walking to protect your joints. Or if you were a high-intensity aerobics buff, you may need to try low-intensity aerobics, yoga, tai chi or Pilates. The important goal is to remain fit.

Fit at any age -- If you've had to slow down the treadmill a bit or make other activity changes, how do you know if you're fit? Make an honest assessment of your own physical abilities. Can you perform daily tasks without fatigue? Can you perform moderately intense activities and talk at the same time? These are both signs of being fit. And no matter what your age or where you are on the fitness scale, you can always improve your personal fitness level.

Here are highlights from the March issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource attribution is required. Also, you may reprint up to four articles annually without cost. More frequent reprinting is allowed for a fee. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Call toll free for subscription information, 800-876-8633, extension 9PK1.

Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource is published monthly to help women enjoy healthier, more productive lives. Revenue from subscriptions is used to support medical research at Mayo Clinic.

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