Studies continue to support that exercise at any age provides multiple benefits even beyond weight control and weight loss, from preventing osteoporosis to relieving stress and promoting heart health.

It's never too late to start, according to a report from the Mayo Clinic. “Even moderate physical activity, such as walking or raking leaves, can help prevent or delay age-associated conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.”

In addition, it's been found that exercise also may help improve memory problems. According to the American Medical Association (AMA), “Exercise improves cognitive [memory] function in older adults with subjective and objective mild cognitive impairment. The benefits of physical activity were apparent after 6 months and persisted for at least another 12 months after [our study] had been discontinued.”

Eric B. Larson, M.D., of the Group Health Center for Health Studies,expands on this AMA finding: “In addition to traditional medical approaches to prevent [Alzheimer disease and related dementias], social factors such as … adequate nutrition, habitual exercise, and opportunities for continued social interactions throughout the lifespan also may contribute significantly to improve well-being in late life.”

Many companies have exercise rooms or walking tracks, while others offer discounted memberships to gyms and weight loss programs. Employees, especially those over 40, should take advantage of these options. If your company does not offer wellness opportunities, get motivated and start your own lunchtime walking club, after-work exercise group or weight loss support group.

FITNESS AT AGE 40

As a general rule, people of all ages need to engage in a combination of cardiovascular conditioning, strength training and flexibility exercises to maintain overall fitness and well-being.

At the age of 40 and beyond, health seekers may need to modify their exercise intensity and routine in keeping with the physical, physiological and, for women, hormonal changes that naturally occur at this time.

An aerobic routine coupled with strength training, a healthy diet and stretching has been proven to replace lost muscle, get the body's metabolism revved up, keep weight off, reduce pre- and post-menopausal symptoms, lower blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol. In addition, exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer and kidney stones, helps fight depression and promotes improved sleep patterns. Most importantly for this age group, the focus needs to be on physical activity as opposed to dieting.

Low-impact workouts generally are recommended for those 40 and above to allow them to burn a high number of calories while lowering the risk of injury. For those bored with their current exercise routine or who have reached a plateau, exercise options such as walking, biking, swimming and low-impact aerobics will reduce the monotony and get metabolism rolling.

When beginning a new routine, remember that fitness means the ability to get on with life without becoming exhausted by normal daily activities. It's important to listen to your body and avoid trying to do too much, too soon.

MIDDLE AGE FITNESS

As previously stated, exercise is one of the lifestyle modifications health experts recommend, not only to reduce excess belly flab but to help prevent or minimize a number of life-threatening conditions, including heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. A recent study published in The Lancet Neurology indicates that middle-aged people who are more physically active have a reduced risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease as they age.

For many, the fight against fat can be a never-ending struggle, but the best time to prevent middle-age weight gain and the onset of other adverse health conditions is now. All you have to do is increase your activity by adding a few minutes to your regular workout until you reach an extra half hour of physical activity per week.

For men and women, boosting activity during those middle years with activities such as walking, dancing, swimming, playing tennis, working out with exercise videos and playing with their grandchildren will effectively increase overall health and wellness, regardless of what kind of shape they were in to begin with.

ACCESSING FITNESS RESOURCES

Seniors with transportation concerns often find themselves wanting to work out, but without the means to get themselves to a health club or other location where they can exercise. Those in this position, and those who are simply time-pressed and/or prefer to work out in private, would do well by using free fitness videos on the Internet, which offer a cost-effective way to exercise, with expert instruction and guidance, in the privacy of their homes. Other at-home fitness resources such as low-impact exercise DVDs also come in handy, particularly when Internet access and/or usage also is a concern.

It goes without saying: No matter how old you are, you should consult with a professional health care advisor before beginning any type of physical fitness program.


Slimtree.com is a leading Web TV Channel specializing in free access Internet and DVD-based fitness videos, allowing health seekers to exercise anywhere, at any time. The company may be reached http://www.slimtree.com.