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Exercise

The Effects of Exercise in the Elderly Population

By Chris Sherwood, via http://www.livestrong.com

You can help reduce the effect of aging with exercise. This is especially true in the elderly population, which can benefit from both aerobic and strength-training exercises that will help with weight reduction and bone strengthening.

Mobility

One of the most noticeable effects of exercise in the elderly population is an increase in mobility and independence. Exercise increases mobility by decreasing body weight, increasing strength around the joints, reducing joint stiffness and even helping to reduce painful inflammation, suggests the Arthritis Foundation. As joints experience less pain and increased range of motion, movements such as walking or performing basic tasks around the house become easier, increasing independence.

Combating Muscle Loss

As you age, your body slowly starts losing muscle mass and replacing lost muscle with fat. However, for the elderly, this can be combated with regular strength-training activities and other forms of exercise. Keeping muscle tissue helps increase strength and provides structure around the joints of the body while combating obesity. Even if using traditional weights are difficult because of joint problems such as arthritis, other methods of strength-training can be used such as water aerobics. Water aerobics removes stress from the joints while at the same time providing natural muscle-strengthening resistance as you move through the water.

Bone Strength

Seniors are at a higher risk of bone problems because of the natural reduction in bone strength as you age. However, exercise can help combat this problem by helping increase bone strength. When you perform strength-training exercises, and even many types of aerobic exercises, you place stress on your bones. This stress encourages the bones to grow stronger to better cope with the additional stress. In fact, exercise can increase bone mineral density at any age, suggests Mariana Shedden and Len Kravitz from the University of New Mexico.

Disease Prevention

Regular exercise for seniors can also help reduce risks for common chronic diseases that often occur. For example, aerobic exercise strengthens the heart muscle, which can help reduce blood pressure. Exercise also helps boost HDL good cholesterol, which in turn reduces bad LDL cholesterol, which is responsible for cholesterol plaque and contributing to heart attack risks. Other diseases that might be reduced by regular exercise include diabetes, arthritis and osteoporosis, all of which are regularly present in the elderly.

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