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The Baby Boomer Heart: Healing Fitness

When it comes to protecting your heart, fitness plays a key role.

Getting Started Getting Fit

If you're like most adults, it could be 10, 20, or even 30 years since you participated in any kind of meaningful physical activity. And if that is the case, doctors say the last thing you want to do is put on the football jersey and head for a weekend game of touch football with your nephew and his college buddies. Likewise ladies, don't dust off those old aerobic tapes and expect to go full tilt on day one.

Start slow and build up gradually.

"You don't have to have any kind of stress test. You just start walking more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking your car farther rather than closer to the store entry. Just begin by incorporating more movement in your normal life," says Siegel.

If you do feel discomfort while walking -- or doing any physical activity -- and feel better when you rest, talk to your doctor about some routine testing to assess your current heart health. Your doctor can also work with you on an activity program that you can continue safely and effectively.

Remember, it's never too late to incorporate fitness into your life -- no matter your age.

In fact, a few years ago doctors from the Ann Arbor VA Hospital in Michigan looked at a group of men and women 80 years old and older. They found all yielded important health benefits -- including improving the body's ability to use oxygen and reducing blood pressure -- by simply walking on a treadmill or riding an exercise bike for 20 minutes twice a week.

Reviewed on November 01, 2006

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