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Fitness for Seniors: Living Longer, Living Healthier

by Graham Forbes

Getting fit is the new challenge for the Baby Boomer generation, especially for those seniors over the age of 65. Unlike members of previous generations, they are dealing with rising issues of obesity, with associated chronic medical issues and higher health costs. As a result, they need to be looking for ways to make fitness part of their daily lifestyle in a way that emphasizes overall wellness and cardiovascular health.

Quite simply, getting fat is the current trend of the Boomers as they age. The nation's obesity epidemic has changed the way Baby Boomers need to think about fitness. According to a number of studies, more than half of all Baby Boomers are considered to be overweight or obese. And that number rises to an even higher percentage for seniors over the age of 65. For example, in the United States, 72 percent of senior men and 67 percent of senior women are overweight or obese. As a result, that growing obesity trend among older Boomers has led to an epidemic of chronic disease heart disease and diabetes among them that carry with them escalating health costs.

A "fit not fat" approach attempts to take on these problems directly. It recognizes that bulking up or shedding inches on the waistline may be great, but that issues such as wellness and health should take precedence. Combined with light cardio exercise such as going for a brisk walk in the morning or at night, a routine of working out 3 days a week can be enough to address the mounting health risks of heart disease and obesity.

A new, emerging health trend among boomers is the setting up of home gyms. There are several reasons why seniors are exploring having their own home gym as a superior alternative to going to the traditional gym. For one, using their home gym is easier and more convenient than going to the local gym. Being able to walk down the hallway to the gym makes it more likely that seniors will be able to work out on their own schedule. For some, that means the ability to work out in a home gym while watching their grandchildren during the day or night.

Moreover, by having a home gym, there are no longer any high annual membership dues or daily commutes to and from the gym. There's no pressure to work out next to other gym members who might be 25 to 40 years younger. And there's pressure to join high-intensity dance or spinning classes that are geared to different fitness needs.

The biggest factor, however, is the ability to develop a personalized training circuit on an all-in-one home gym machine. That's especially important since seniors face particular health concerns. Gone are the days when they could safely walk into a gym and start picking up the heaviest weights. In fact, most doctors caution older Boomers against using free weights. They suggest using gym machines, which take muscles through a much wider range of motion and are safer.

According to many fitness experts, seniors should focus on those exercises that will help them in their everyday lives. That means upper body exercises that will help them carry groceries to and from the car, or do light yard work on the weekend. It means lower body exercises that will help them get up and down stairs easily. And it means a focus on the body's inner core for stability and agility.

Since many of today's all-in-one home gym machines include 20 or more exercises that can be performed on them, that makes them perfect for setting up an exercise routine that will target the upper body, lower body and back. And most gym machines that focus on overall toning and strength can be purchased for less than $1000, making them cost-effective for most seniors.

With a "fit not fat" approach, seniors can gain all the health benefits of exercise, while toning and strengthening their entire body. And with a home gym, they can stick to a regular workout program that helps them live longer and healthier.

About the Author.

Graham Forbes is a 70 year old educator and health and fitness blogger who regularly writes on the issues of fitness and wellness for Boomers. His website provides advice on how and why older people should set up their own health and fitness program. Graham is an example and advocate of fitness that is achieved gently and with enjoyment.

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