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Article updated: 7/1/2013 6:38 AM

Your Health: Exercising as you age

Exercise needs aren’t that much different as you age. Just make sure you add strength training to your cardio workouts.

Exercise needs aren't that much different as you age. Just make sure you add strength training to your cardio workouts.

 
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By Daily Herald Reports

Exercise and aging

According to government recommendations, you should do at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate aerobic activity per week and twice-weekly sessions of strength training to improve your health, no matter your age.

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But don't physical fitness needs change as we grow older?

Not that much, it turns out, says The Washington Post.

Todd Miller, an associate professor in the Department of Exercise Science at George Washington University, says whether you're 20 years old or 60, you will need a combination of cardio and strength training to keep your heart and muscles in good shape and your weight under control.

The one difference may be that strength training becomes more crucial for everyday functional fitness as you get older. "A big issue as you age is the risk of falling. And strength training that builds muscle power helps prevent falls," he says.

"People should do a combination of both cardio and strength" to meet those fitness goals, he says, but in general he sees an "overemphasis on cardio and underemphasis on strength."

The challenge, Miller says, is not deciding whether fitness needs are age-specific. It's getting people to do what they should do, at any age, to stay healthy and fit. "The problem is not the exercise or the type of exercise; it's the adherence or the lack of adherence to exercise that is the main issue," he says.

Only about 20 percent of Americans follow the government recommendations.

Government recommendations say, "We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but you don't have to do it all at once. Not only is it best to spread your activity out during the week, but you can break it up into small chunks of time during the day. As long as you're doing your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time," says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends "a 10-minute brisk walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week. This will give you a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity."

Buckwheat boost

With all the hype about vegetarian and gluten-free diets, it is surprising there isn't more discussion about buckwheat, a grain substitute that, despite its name, is naturally gluten-free.

Buckwheat is loaded with health benefits, according to The Washington Post. Similar to whole grains, it is a great source of heart-healthy fiber. It also provides hunger-satisfying protein without any of the cholesterol or saturated fat that animal protein contains. Plus, it offers eight essential amino acids, making this complete protein a smart nutritional choice for vegetarians.

Other buckwheat benefits include fatigue-fighting iron, bone-healthy calcium and immune system-boosting manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc. Buckwheat is also a good source of a powerful flavonoid, rutin, which has been shown to protect against blood clots. It also contains omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.

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