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It is hard to over-stress the importance of staying active to the healthy aging process. Even moderate amounts of exercise have proven benefits with very limited side effects. Some geriatricians call exercise the true fountain of youth. Any change or increase in physical activity should be discussed with your primary care doctor.

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Staying active can boost your body’s natural immune system, strengthen bones, and improve your mental level. You lead a healthier, longer life through exercise. The benefits may accrue even to seniors who smoke or have high blood pressure.

Too few of us in all age groups exercise. However, the participation rates are lower for seniors. Of course it can be hard to discipline yourself to work out regularly if you are in pain or fighting a chronic condition. But in Florida we have the advantage of not being snow-bound at any time of the year. We can walk outside without the fear of slipping on icy sidewalks or stumbling in snow.

There are also opportunities for exercise all around us. Lifestyle activities include everyday tasks such as gardening or housework. There are weight rooms at many condominium complexes, assisted living facilities and gyms around Southwest Florida. There are always classes through the YMCA or the Wellness Centers (affiliated with Naples Community Hospital.) And if all else fails, you can walk on the beach or jog or bike.

A good goal is to get 30 minutes of moderately intense activity on most (or all) days. If you need to lose weight, you could increase the workout to 60 minutes. You can break the exercise sessions up so that you are doing two shorter sessions, or keep it together in one. It is wise to begin a workout with warm-up exercises. Remember that if you have questions about exercise in your specific case, talk to your doctor first.