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Are You Healthy for Your Age? What Really Matters

Exercise can’t erase the years, but it can certainly help stave off the effects of aging. In fact, being physically fit is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health.“Physical fitness helps reduce the risk of chronic disease and lower blood pressure and can reduce symptoms of anxiety and…

Exercise can’t erase years but can help to slow down the effects of ageing. Physical fitness is one of the most important things you can do to improve your mental and physical health.

“Physical Fitness helps lower the risk of chronic diseases and lower blood Pressure . It can also reduce anxiety and depression symptoms among some people,” Scott Cheatham PhD, DPT, professor in kinesiology at California State University Dominguez Hills.

While fitness won’t change how many candles are on your birthday cake, it could make you functionally years younger. “If you’re fit, you can endeavor to have the health of somebody 10 to 15 years younger,” says Michele Olson, PhD, senior clinical professor of sport science at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL.

But what does “fit” actually mean? It turns out that it is a broad term with many meanings. And it doesn’t mean you have to look like an Olympian.

In general, it means “being able to have muscle strength, endurance and power, as well as joint mobility and overall flexibility to complete tasks or physical activities without undue tiredness or extreme effort.” Cheatham says.

How do you get there? What benchmarks are there to help you determine whether you’re physically fit? These are the questions experts answer.

What It Takes to Get Fit

It’s more doable than you may think. The U.S. government has released its latest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

” These guidelines are a guideline for all individuals and every person should try to follow or exceed them,” Cheatham states.

According to the guidelines, adults should do:

  • At least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (like brisk walking or raking your yard) or 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (such as running or taking a hard fitness class) every week.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities for all major muscle groups two or more days a week.
  • Sit less and move more throughout the day.

Doing this will lower your risk of many health problems — and push back against what the years will do if you take no action.

“With normal aging, your muscle mass and bone density decrease, and if you’re not putting a load on the heart and lungs beyond the activities of daily living, your cardiorespiratory fitness will suffer,” says Walt Thompson, PhD, past president of the American College of Sports Medicine.

You actually lose about 3% to 5% of muscle per decade after turning 30, Cheatham says. Mobility and flexibility also decrease with age. And although you reach peak bone mass between the ages of 17 and 30 years, you begin to lose it rapidly after the age of 50. That’s why older people shouldn’t be denied the opportunity to follow the guidelines for physical activity. In fact, the guidelines recommend that people age 65 and older do balance training, too.

However, there are some medical conditions that might prevent you from reaching the weekly exercise goals. You should adhere to the guidelines to stay as active as possible, regardless of your limitations. Also, keep in mind that activities may change as you age.

For instance, running may have been your go-to act

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