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Fitness for Older Adults

By Anne Keckler | February 3, 2008

Old Men on Bikes
Photo by Braids123

My mom asked me, last night, what I’d recommend to older adults who are just beginning an exercise program.

She brought up the case of Suzanne Somers, who apparently had trouble losing weight until she went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance. (I haven’t seen the interview to which she referred, but it was probably regarding Somers’ book about Bioidentical Hormonal Therapy.) You can see a short video of Suzanne Somers talking about aging and hormone therapy here. As it happens, I recently read an article about Testosterone for Women. It’s a fascinating subject.

Women, especially, seem to suffer from hormonal imbalances as we age. These imbalances can cause us to gain weight that is difficult to lose. This problem can begin as much as ten years prior to the onset of menopause, so we may not even be aware of the cause of our weight gain. We may feel confused as to why we are gaining weight, when our lifestyle hasn’t changed. We are eating the same, and we are doing all the same things we’ve always done, but the weight continues to add up.

Testosterone is thought of as the male hormone, but the truth is that women need the right amount of testosterone to have a healthy balance. Men also need the right amounts of estrogen and progesterone!

So back to my mom’s original question: What would I recommend to older adults who are beginning a fitness program? First, see your doctor. Get your heart checked out, to be sure you are cleared to begin an exercise program. Make sure you don’t have any hormonal imbalances, several of which could cause fatigue and weight gain (or at least difficulty in losing weight).

Then I’d recommend, if you are out of shape, that you walk. Go back to my article on How Much Exercise? to get some ideas on where to start. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step! Take that first step, and gain all the health benefits of exercise.

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