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Once we hit the half century mark, life changes and so do our bodies. Our fitness inevitably begins to fade. The harsh reality of aging is that our metabolism slows, and we lose not only cardiovascular stamina, but also muscle mass and bone density. In fact, muscle strength is lost at a rate of roughly 15 percent a year after age 50, and 30 percent a year after age 70. Depending on our lifestyles and activity levels, we’re also at risk for illness, loss of balance and mental health issues, as well as decreased vision and hearing.

You might be getting older, but that doesn’t mean you have to slow down. Yet, your body might think otherwise, sending you messages in the forms of aches and pains that you didn’t have to battle during your earlier adult years. Those aches and pains aren’t telling you to stop exercising altogether. Staying fit and active is important for your overall health and longevity, but now that you’re older, you may have to apply some new thought on how to how you keep fit.

Baby boomers should focus on cardio, strength, flexibility, balance and core.

1. Cardio Training might be just taking a 10-minute walk or 10 minutes on a stationary bike, depending on your cardio condition. However, you should work up to at least 30 minutes per day for 5-7 days per week. Start slowly and build up gradually. Cardio training helps to protect your heart and lungs.

2. Strength Training increases bone density, builds a stronger heart, improves posture, reduces your resting blood pressure, improves blood flow, halts muscle loss, helps control blood sugar, improves cholesterol levels, and improves your balance and coordination. Baby boomers should be strength-training at least 3 times a week.

3. Flexibility Training is a forgotten area. Many of my clients, especially my male clients, try to get out of doing it because they do not like it and it could be a little uncomfortable. It is especially important for baby boomers. It will help improve posture, decrease risk of injury, reduce lower back pain and improve blood flow and nutrients to soft tissue. Flexibility training should be done every day.

4. Balance Training becomes important as we get into our 50’s. Having good balance is needed for many activities we do every day, such as walking and going up and down the stairs. Balance training can help prevent falls and thereby prevent fractures. Balance training should be done 3 to 5 days a week.

5. Functional Core Training is important. People think that having washboard abs means you have a strong core, but that is not necessarily true. Your core is not just your abs; it involves all the muscles in that area of your midsection, including the front, back and sides. The core includes the transverse abdominis (TVA), multifidus, pelvic floor, erector spinae, obliques, gluteus maximus, diaphragm, rectus abdominis and hip flexors. The core is about power, strength and stabilization. Core muscles create a solid base for your body, allowing you to stay upright and stand strong on your two feet. This type of training should be done at least 3 times a week.

For overall health and an improved lifestyle, consider adding swimming, yoga and/or Tai Chi to your fitness regimen.

Older adults should check with their doctors before beginning a new type of workout. This is especially important if you’ve been inactive for several months, want to try a more vigorous routine, or have medical conditions that could be affected by exercise.

Now let’s start to develop a strong body.

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