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What Exercises To Consider

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Any regular physical activity is good, from brisk walking to weight lifting.

Just getting and staying active in your daily life is a good way to start. (For more, see: How To Fit Exercise In To Your Daily Life.)

Ideally, an exercise regimen should include all four types of exercise: Flexibility, Strengthening and Cardiovascular (Aerobic, Endurance) and Balance.

  • Flexibility (Stretching, Range-of-motion): Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles and can help your body stay limber. Gentle stretching exercises help reduce the risk of joint injury and warm you up for more strenuous exercise. Flexibility exercises include shoulder and upper arm stretch, calf stretch and Yoga.
  • Strengthening (Resistance): Helps strengthen muscles by using weights or resistance to make your muscles harder/stronger. These exercises include lifting weights, and using a resistance band.
  • Cardiovascular (Aerobic, Endurance): Physical activity that uses the large muscles of the body in rhythmic, continuous motions to make your heart and lungs work more efficiently.  Cardiovascular exercises include: brisk walking or jogging, yard work (mowing, raking, digging). dancing, swimming, biking, climbing stairs or hills, playing tennis or basketball.
  • Balance: Balance exercises help prevent falls which are particularly a problem in older adults. Many lower-body strength exercises also will improve your balance. Balance exercises include: standing on one foot, heel-to-toe walk, Tai Chi.

The best kind of exercise is one that you will actually do. Pick an activity that is fun for you. You are more likely to stick with it. Participating in a sport is one good way to keep in shape. So are soft exercises like light gardening, yard work, dancing, golfing or biking.

For help setting an exercise program that works for you, see:

  • Exercise: A Guide From The National Institute On Aging. An excellent free primer that includes exercises, information about safety, self-tests, benefits of exercise and nutrition. The guide is available at: offsite link  The same information is presented in a dfiferent format at: offsite link. Choose whichever works best for you.
  • Fitness Fundamentals: Guidelines for Personal Exercise Programs, available free from The President's Council On Physical Fitness And Sports. Available online at: offsite link,
  • Nolan Ryan Fitness Guide available free at: offsite link.
  • For illustrated exercises, see the American Council on Exercise's web site at offsite link.  Type "Exercise Library" in the search box.

For exercise programs: In addition to local gyms, DVDs and Videos, consider free resources such as:

  • AARP offers a free booklet on a 12 week program for beginners. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), Health Advocacy Services, 601 E Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 800.424.3410 or 202. 434.2230.
  • offsite link offsite link(click on "Exercise Library").
  • offsite link offsite linkfor free online videos, slide shows other tools for stretching and other exercises.

NOTE: When deciding which exercises to do, think about the amount of energy you expend per hour. While it is difficult to set a preferred minimum amount of energy to expend each week to get maximum beneficial effects of exercise, a large study has shown that 8 to 27 MET-hours of exercise each week reduced the risk of recurrence and death for women with breast cancer when compared with sedentary survivors—those who exercised three MET-hours per week or less. Doing 18 MET-hours a week is not difficult. It is equivalent to walking at a modest pace for one hour, six days a week, or playing tennis or jogging for two-and-a-half hours each week. For a complete list of activities and the MET hours each produces, see: offsite link

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