Never Too Late, Never Say Die: Fitness After 60

You're 10 years past half-a-century mark and you're constantly on the lookout for signs of sarcopenia -- a fancy term scientists coined to describe the loss of muscle strength and quality of tissue on older people. You're 60 and you feel so old. But should you? Among the most intriguing passages in the Bible pertaining to the lifespan of man is found in the sixth chapter of the book of Genesis verse three, where God said "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."

Today, in some parts of the world, reaching the ripe, old age of 120-years is still not a rarity. For one, the elderly of various cultures from Russia, to Ecuador, to the Himalayas, not only managed to live over a hundred years old but also maintained their vigor until the time of their death.

Hit the Road
Few experts will argue that physical activity is among the foremost components of retarding the aging process. Our physical body was designed for mobility. Humans, like ships, rust when constantly docked at the harbor.

There is one exercise that has won the accolade of the entire healing profession -- walking. Walking is an excellent exercise for elderly people who want to get fit. Nearly anyone anywhere without any special gear can do it. Best of all, it is low impact -- easy on the bones and muscles. It can be an exercise program in itself or as an auxiliary training to a sport or another fitness activity.

Among the most popular health benefits of walking are it opens and improves the resilience of blood vessels making them more elastic and less prone to rupture. It also strengthens the heart muscles and reduces blood pressure thus warding off heart attacks. Researchers pinned down the core health benefit of walking in the phenomenon called the "second heart." Walking will ultimately develop the leg muscles that comprise two-thirds of the total muscle mass of the body. Researchers said the phenomenon of the "second heart" occurs when the muscles of the legs contract (those in the feet, calves, thighs and buttocks). These will induce a rhythmical compression on the veins and other blood vessels in the legs thus forcing the blood upward toward the heart against the pull of gravity. In short, walking aids the heart in its daily task of pumping gallons of blood around the body. The Oxygen Factor Proper breathing is another crucial factor of optimum fitness. Good health is very much dependent on the body's efficient intake of oxygen. On the cellular level, oxygen is the fuel that feeds the 75 trillion cells in the human body. A product of this synthesis is the substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) dubbed by scientists as the basic currency of life. No amount of mental or physical activity can take place without using ATP.
Therefore, anything that will teach and induce proper diaphragmatic breathing is beneficial. Try singing and laughing. Besides being a joyous activity, pulling off a Sinatra is an excellent respiratory workout. Laughing on the other hand is the ultimate sedentary exercise. Laughter forces an individual to breathe in an optimal fashion giving the diaphragm, the abdominal muscles, the heart and other muscles a dynamic workout. There is barely a distinction on muscular activity whether a person laughs or exercises. What's in Your Head? Physical exercise is but half of the proverbial yin and yang as far as slowing down the aging process is concerned. Your attitude and frame of mind are as vital if not more important than the physicality that all of people can relate with. Inner faith and the constant joy of living is the key to achieving something, be it starting a vegetable garden or getting out of a wheel chair. People who are fun and who believe in themselves tend to achieve the most in life. Martial arts superstar Jackie Chan had long hit the 50-mark but is as bubbly as ever and can still frolic like a cat high on ephedrine. Regardless of age, man is in charge of the state of his health and happiness.
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