(Family Features)—Regular physical activity at any age can help you live longer, feel better and reduce health problems. But far too many people, including baby boomers, don't get the exercise they need. According to the 2012 Participation Report from the Physical Activity Council (PAC), 35 percent of Americans over the age of 55 are physically inactive. Since regular exercise helps control blood pressure, body weight, cholesterol and so much more, boomers need to find ways to get their bodies moving so they can live longer, healthier lives.
"Though any amount of exercise is beneficial, ultimately adults should work up to getting at least 30 minutes most days of the week, as long as they feel comfortable and pain-free," says world-renowned nutritionist Joy Bauer. "From taking a Zumba class to walking and stretching, getting regular physical activity helps the joints stay loose, maintains muscle mass, and gets the blood flowing -- all of which make everyday tasks easier."
The American Council on Exercise recommends older Americans choose exercise programs that include cardiovascular, muscle conditioning, and flexibility exercises. Low-impact, non-jarring exercises such as walking and swimming are good options. A key to sticking with a fitness program is making sure it's enjoyable.
A fun new program for older adults is Zumba Gold, a low-impact dance-based workout designed specifically for boomers and seniors. Workout routines combine salsa, merengue, flamenco and cumbia moves with fun music. For those that would prefer to work out in the comfort of their own home, there is also a Zumba Gold "Live it Up" DVD collection that offers 3 discs with workouts, as well as advice from experts in the fields of nutrition, brain health, enhancing your well-being and more.
Workout Safety Tips
- Whenever beginning a new fitness activity or program, make sure you do it safely.
- Wear comfortable shoes that fit well.
- Stay hydrated with plenty of fluids.
- Listen to your body. If it hurts or it feels like too much, stop.
You also need to be aware of danger signs while exercising. Stop the activity and call your doctor or 911 if you experience pain or pressure in your chest, arms, neck or jaw; feel lightheaded, nauseated or weak; become short of breath; develop pain in your legs, calves or back; or feel like your heart is beating too fast or skipping beats.
"It's important to see your doctor before beginning any workout routine to receive a thorough cardiovascular evaluation," says Bauer. "Once you've been cleared by your doctor, I recommend starting out slowly."
Pick an Activity that You Will Enjoy
The best way to find a regimen that will stick is to choose something that you enjoy. You'll be more likely to stick with it and reap all the benefits the physical activity has to offer.