Senior exercise for body and balance

PHOENIX - It is so important that people of all ages exercise every day. However, it is especially important that as we age we continue to engage in regular physical exercise.

As we get older, our bodies begin to slow down a little bit. This can affect various aspects of our health. Our muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility can suffer.

This can make it more and more difficult to participate in daily activities. Michelle Cherrington, AFAA Certified Fitness Instructor in the Valley, says, "Daily exercise can also help to combat many illnesses that can occur, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and the most fascinating to me is how studies show a large correlation between exercise and brain health."

Of course, anyone starting an exercise program should consult with a physician. Any physical limitations they have should be taken into consideration and exercises should be modified to prevent further injury.

Cherrington says, "It was surprising to me that the recommendations from the ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) and AHA (American Heart Association) for people 65 and older are the same as for the younger population. They even have 'bonus' things to incorporate into their routines, such as 2-3 days of strength training vs. 2 and they stress performing balance training to reduce risk from falls."

Strength-training is also critical for older adults. Adults lose 4-6 lbs. of muscle tissue per decade, which means a significant loss of body strength and a lower resting metabolism. 
But, there is hope.

"Older adults who continue with a strength-training program have shown to regain lost muscle mass, increase their strength, metabolism, bone density and balance and improve their quality of life. This combined with cardiovascular exercise, balance training and healthy eating will help an individual look and feel good despite their age. You're only as old as you feel, right?" says Cherrington.

She came up with 5 great exercises for us, inspired by her grandmother who is also starting to see signs of balance again.

"Oh, I adore my Grandma! She is 83 years old and the past few years I have her seen struggle with her balance. She is very healthy, has an incredible memory, but finds it challenging to get around like she used to. Because of this I have been a strong advocate of balance training and have tried to sneak it in to as many of my classes and training sessions as I can," says Cherrington.

First of all, nearly any activity that keeps you on your feet and moving, such as walking, can help you maintain good balance. But, there are also some simple things you can do to help insure you are steady on your feet.

1. Walking or heel/toe walking
2. Single leg balance - can do this while weight training or close eyes
3. Single Leg lift with arm reach
4. Knee lifts
5. Getting up and down from a chair
6: How often should they be doing this?

As far as the balance training goes I would say everyday. They are simple to do, there is no equipment required and they will enhance anyone's fitness routine.

Michelle Cherrington has been an AFFA Certified Fitness Instructor since 2004. She is certified in LeMond Cycling, BOSU Balance Training, Total Gym Gravity Training, and Kinesis. She teaches a variety of classes, such as muscle conditioning, indoor cycling, core, Step, bootcamp, Kinesis, TRX and Gravity Strength.

Michelle is the proud mother of 4 children and lives in Scottsdale with her husband Chad. She is passionate about fitness and knows the benefits that can be attained, both physically and mentally, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She feels privileged to be in a profession where she is able to help people look good, feel good, and hopefully have a little fun along the way.

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