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Lifestyle & Travel

Tips to Stay Active as You Age

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Being physically active can help you ward off obesity and reduce your risk of a host of ailments.

Being physically active can help you ward off obesity and reduce your risk of a host of ailments. But desk jobs, illness and tight schedules can all conspire to keep us less active than we'd like to be. Below are some tips to help you stay active as you get older. It's always a good idea to check with your doctor before you start a new fitness routine.

Find a Partner and Make a Plan

Whether it's basketball, jogging or yoga, having a partner may help ensure that you exercise. So will having a plan. But combining a partner and a plan works best. This could be because partners keep each other from straying from their plans or simply because working out with a friend may be more fun. But for whatever reason, both a partner and a plan are better at helping you stay active.

The plans that are most effective are usually "if-then" plans — if rain washes out our session on Thursday, then we'll do two sessions next week.

Start Walking and Get a Pedometer

If you're too busy for organized exercise, there's always walking. Walking is a great way to exercise that's highly underrated. Yet it's also highly underutilized. In one study by the Yale School of Medicine, fewer than 25 percent of the people said that they walked 10 or more consecutive minutes per week.

You may want to buy and use a pedometer. According to another study, you'll walk more if you do — about 75 percent more — and may lower your blood pressure, to boot.

Consider Tai Chi

Gentle and fluid, tai chi may be the perfect exercise for anyone who's not up for more rigorous types of exercise, like those recovering from an operation. Practiced for more than 2,000 years in China, Western science has been uncovering health benefits from tai chi that range from increased energy and stamina to decreased stress and anxiety.

Sometimes described as meditation in motion, tai chi needs no special equipment and can be performed indoors or outdoors, alone or in groups, so it can be a social activity or a stand-alone exercise done in the comfort of your own home.

Walk at a Moderate Pace

Most exercise guidelines specify 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise. Sure, that's two and a half hours, but what type of activities count as moderate intensity exercise? One simple rule of thumb is that you shouldn't be able to sing but should still be able to talk while performing any activity that noticeably increases your heart and breathing rate.

Perhaps the simplest exercise guideline suggests that you walk at 100 steps a minute for a total of 150 minutes a week. That could be 3,000 steps a day, five days a week or any other combination that adds up to 15,000 steps. Naturally, buying a pedometer will help you out with the math. As for the speed, it's been described as a brisk walk, the speed you might walk at if you were late for a bus.

Remember That Everything Counts

If you've really been inactive lately, as little as one hour a week of exercise can improve your health and your mood. And it can all start if you just take the stairs instead of the elevator.

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