exercises fitness1 webTo maintain your current fitness as you grow older, it’s important to make exercise part of your daily routine. Even a short period of inactivity can result in significant loss of fitness. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends working out at least 150 to 300 minutes per weeks, says John Graham, senior network administrator, Fitness & Sports Performance, St. Luke’s University Health Network. That equates to 30-60 minutes per day at least five days per week.

“We start to lose fitness gains within two weeks of being sedentary,” Graham said. “Within that short time frame, you can expect to lose 20-30 percent of cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength. For example, if you were lifting 200 pounds, and stopped, you would only be able to able to lift 160-170 pounds.”

However, if you’ve had a period of inactivity due to injury, illness, surgery or simply because you were less than motivated during the cold weather, spring is a perfect time to start exercising again. Graham cautions, however, to begin slowly. For instance, if you had been walking for 20 minutes a day last fall and stopped during the winter, he recommends that you begin walking for 10 minutes.

In helping older adults improve fitness and regain strength, Graham focuses on activities that simulate daily activities. Examples include stepping up onto wooden boxes to replicate the actions of walking upstairs or holding a medicine ball while seated and standing up to simulate what’s involved in picking up a small child.

“We tailor each person’s program to their unique needs and physical condition,” he says. “If someone’s having trouble ambulating, we’re not going to put them on a treadmill but rather would develop a program to strengthen the muscles that support walking.” Graham suggests that older adults wanting to rebuild strength and stamina seek out a fitness center with experienced knowledgeable professionals who can help them safely meet their fitness goals.

St. Luke’s Fitness & Sports Performance Centers are conveniently located in Allentown, Bethlehem, Blakeslee, Easton, Jim Thorpe, Mahanoy City, New Ringgold, Phillipsburg (NJ) and Tamaqua.

For information regarding St. Luke’s Sports Medicine, call St. Luke’s InfoLink at 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537), option 4 or visit www.sluhn.org.

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