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Fitness for a Lifetime

How much exercise - and what kind - do you need for lifelong fitness?

60, 70, and Beyond

Once you pass 60, experts say, fitness becomes "functional," with your goal being to live an active, mobile life.

As such, Calabrese says, choose workouts that imitate activities you do every day.

"Think about the motions you make when picking up groceries, lifting your grandchild, getting in and out of your car, working in your garden -- your exercises need to mimic these movements," says Calabrese.

And, she says, you don't necessarily need a formal workout routine to keep in shape.

"Try squatting and lifting a laundry basket, or getting down on the floor and getting up again several times; stand on one foot while you're waiting in line at the grocery store to help improve balance," recommends Calabrese. "Remember, your goal is to increase your ability to do everyday things."

You may feel a bit sore at times, but Litman says -- unless you have an injury -- don't stop moving: "If you do, you will further reduce flexibility and that, in turn, will increase pain when you do move, and ultimately it will become harder to remain on your feet."

If you feel strong enough for a regular fitness routine, look for programs with gentle movements, such as tai chi, yoga, or Pilates.

Stretching exercises, particularly for the upper body, are especially important now.

"Women tend to get very loose back muscles and very tight chest muscles, which cause you to pull your shoulders forward, leading to a stooped posture -- and a very aging look," says Calabrese.

To remedy this problem, she says, stretch the chest muscles by lacing your fingers together behind your back and lifting your hands up. To tighten back muscles, use a pulling motion -- like wrapping an exercise band around a pole and pulling both ends toward you like you're rowing.

"This can be done seated or standing, and it will really help with posture and sometimes even balance," says Calabrese.

If your health allows, be certain to work in some cardio conditioning.

Says Litman: "It doesn't have to be as vigorous as what you did in your 40s or even 50s, but you should do something to increase your heart rate at least once or twice a week."

If knees and hips are in good shape, she recommends the elliptical trainer. If you have problems staying on your feet for an extended period, try a stationary bike.

For overall fitness and conditioning -- at any age -- all our experts say that nothing beats going for a brisk, long walk!

Reviewed on January 27, 2006

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