Healthy Living: Aging is a great reason to exercise

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I was talking with a friend the other day and he mentioned that his mother told him that she won’t start a fitness program because she’s too old and fragile to exercise.

I told him that’s about as far from the truth as she can get.

In fact, I told him, aging is even more of a reason to begin a health and fitness program. As we grow older, we need exercise more than ever to maintain a healthy quality of life.

While we were talking, in my head I started rattling off all the falsities about age and exercise. That’s when I decided to make it the topic of this week’s column: the truths and falsities about age and exercise.

To start, let me address my friend’s concern. His mother can and should start a program. Here’s the truth about exercise and old age: You’re never too old to start, and there are different levels of exercise for people at different levels of health.

Before you begin any program, check with your physician, but if you’re in otherwise good health and are just concerned about your age, exercises such as water aerobics or walking can help extend and improve quality of life.

Exercise rumor No. 2: Resistance training should be avoided when you get old. Again, that’s false. If your doctor approves, a small amount of weight training will strengthen bones and help thwart off the potential effects of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and aging.

On the other end of the spectrum, I get plenty of exercise questions regarding children. The most often asked is, “Should I keep my child from exercising?”

Here’s the truth: letting kids exercise is great, as long as you keep it fun and playful. At a young age, children are more concerned with having a good time than about what exercise does to their bodies. Keep things fun, such as playing soccer or a game of tag, and the kids will come back for more.

People also ask whether it’s safe for kids to lift weights, and my answer is no. Children have softer bones that have not fully developed into adult, weight-resistant bones; and resistance training has the ability to permanently injure and affect adolescent growth.

For this week’s fit and easy recipe, try this great low-fat potato leek soup:

Start with a pound of chopped potatoes, a half pound of sliced leeks, a chopped white onion, an ounce of low-fat butter and a half-pint of water. Cover and microwave for 20 minutes, add a pint of hot chicken stock and cook for an additional five minutes. Season to taste and blend until you reach a smooth, souplike consistency. Top with low-fat cheese and enjoy.

E-MAIL BRIAN@BRIANDUEWEL.COM OR CHECK HIS BLOG AT HEALTHYLIVINGWITHBRIANDUEWEL.COM.


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