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3 Fitness Activities We Need to Keep Doing (or Add to Our Routine) As We Age

In general, most Americans start to decrease their physical activity as they get older, usually about 10% each decade after age 25. Over the next 2-3 decades, if this trend continues, serious health issues can start to occur, taking the form of metabolic syndrome, cardiorespiratory diseases and/or early warning markers of stroke, heart disease and diabetes.  

And yet, all these risks can be mitigated through the three key activities to longevity: cardiovascular training (activities such as walking, swimming, biking, etc.), strength training and balance training.  

According to a large-scale study by the American Medical Association, “participants who performed two to four times above the recommended amount of moderate physical activity had a 26% to 31% lower all-cause mortality risk and a 28% to 38% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.”

What You Need to Know About Strength and Balance

1. Balance Training

Take your balance seriously! As we age and spend more time in a seated position, balance will be the first to go, leaving you susceptible to falls and serious injury, even death. In a study called “Taking Balance Training for Older Adults One Step Further,” researchers demonstrated that the need to create balancing programs each day is just as important as cardio activity and strength training.  

The reduction in the risk of falling is critical to avoiding injury and doing everything else you need to stay healthy as you age. For starters, a way to add balance exercises to your life is simply to stand on one leg when standing in line. As you advance, you can do some of the strength training exercises to include balance, such as doing biceps curls while standing on one leg.  

Walking is also an excellent method to include balance training in your day. As you

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A Workout for Aging Bodies: How Ballet Can Help Improve Balance

At Studio A in Los Angeles, Diane Kravif, 75, stands at the barre with pin-straight posture. Pink slippers cover her feet, and her silver bob is pushed back with a headband. Watching her tendu and plié, you might assume she has danced forever. But it has been only four years.

“I’m always the oldest one,” Ms. Kravif said of students in the weekly drop-in class. Learning the technique was tough at first, she added, but there are moments now when she feels as if she is really dancing. “It feels astounding, something I never expected.”

Ballet has in recent years gained traction among older adults. Though there is no public data on the number of senior ballet students, there was enough interest in 2017 for the Royal Academy of Dance, among the largest teacher-training authorities in the world for classical ballet, to create its Silver Swans program for teaching people 55 and older. The academy has since certified over 1,000 of these ballet teachers, operating out of 51 countries.

American schools have been offering similar programs, including the Golden Swans at Oklahoma City Ballet, Senior Steps at Ballet West in Salt Lake City and Boomer Ballet at the St. Paul Ballet in Minnesota.

The rise in interest comes at a time when we have a greater understanding about ballet’s potential benefits — especially for an aging body and mind.

Numerous studies show that, beginning at around 40, balance is a vital skill associated with longevity and quality of life. In one study, 20 percent of people over 50 couldn’t balance on one leg for 10 seconds. This correlated with a twofold risk of death within a decade.

Ballet classes often focus on single-leg balance or keeping your balance as you transfer weight from one position

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