Exercise: The Secret to a Long and Healthy Life

Health Minute

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Exercise is an easy, inexpensive way to improve your health. Older adults need exercise as much as young adults. Getting off the sofa and moving more is important to being healthy.

The passing of recent health care legislation in the United States has turned the nation’s focus to preventive care and its role in keeping Americans healthy.

According to a recent study by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, only about 16 percent of Medicare patients took advantage of their preventive care benefits in the first half of this year. Medicare has since launched a campaign to promote annual wellness visits and free preventive services to make sure patients remain on the right track.

Dr. Anjana Shah of Fairfield Road Physicians says maintaining good health as you age can be as simple as moving more. Although many people believe the aging process is naturally accompanied by a decrease in physical activity, this does not have to be the case. “It is not ‘normal’ to slow down as you get older,” said Shah. “You should still be able to do many of the same physical activities that you could do a year ago.”

Even though many primary care physicians stress the importance of physical activity to their senior patients, that often isn’t enough to drive patients to act on their physicians’ advice. According to Dr. Shah, approximately three-fourths of her elderly patients need more exercise. “Many of my patients think certain health conditions prevent them from being able to exercise,” said Shah. “In reality, exercise can actually reduce symptoms and help treat certain health issues, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.”

The National Institute on Aging recommends at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity, such as walking, biking and swimming, a week. Routine exercise, specifically strength and endurance training, can prevent and improve some of the most common health issues seen in patients over 65, including arthritis, osteoporosis and depression. Dr. Shah encourages her patients to check local senior centers for interesting extracurricular activities, especially since many of these centers provide transportation.

Recent research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found exercise performed in community settings improved the physical, emotional and social health of its elderly subjects. While exercise is extremely important for the elderly, it’s also a fundamental preventive care method that should be practiced by individuals of all ages. “With obesity and poor diet becoming more and more common, younger adults can experience some of the same health issues that are traditionally associated with aging,” said Shah. “Making exercise a habit at a young age can prevent many of these issues from developing altogether, and result in a long and healthy life.”

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.