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Exercising with Friends Holds Positive Health Benefits

Sticking with an exercise routine can be a challenge, especially as we age and movement becomes more difficult. However, a recent study conducted at the University of British Columbia in Canada found that exercising with peers your own age increases your chances of continuing a program.

The study put people, who all together averaged around 72 years of age, into three groups based on demographic traits. One group held people who were the same in both gender and age. The other was consistent in age but varied in gender. The final was a class open to the general public, so it contained a diverse grouping of age and gender. After the 24-week period ended, researchers found that, on average, participants who worked-out with same-age peers attended more classes than those in the mixed-age group; gender had almost no effect on the number of classes attended. Throughout the study, researchers also tried to increase bonding by handing out group t-shirts and setting up “hang-outs” after class.

All-in-all, these results show the power of creating social connections. If we feel like part of a group, exercise becomes more enjoyable and we are more likely to partake. These findings become important when deciding to create an exercise program in our older years.

It’s also important to remember many of the exercise classes offered for younger generations can be too rigorous and unsafe for some seniors. So what regimes should you and your friends consider?

While it is true that our cardiovascular system does diminish as our bodies age, the decline of endurance can also be attributed to a decrease in muscle mass. Therefore, it is necessary to consider work-out regimens that are designed to gently increase strength along with aerobic stamina.

For strength exercises, keep an eye out for classes that use resistance training and repetitive motions to build up muscle. Body weight exercises and calisthenics are also a good option and fairly convenient considering they don’t require any sort of extra equipment.

As for aerobic training, doctors recommend older adults do around 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day to increase blood flow. Swimming, walking, or stationary bike riding are great ways to get into an aerobic workout routine. In the beginning, this sort of exercise may seem difficult, but after a few weeks of continued exercise, your ability to exercise without getting tired will likely improve.

Exercise doesn’t have to be boring or hard. Call some friends and pull together a group full of people who are eager to work-out, or who at the least want a little fun group interaction. Aim to create a routine combining both strength and aerobic excise programs. Living a healthy lifestyle is necessary in our golden years in order to not only increase the longevity of life, but also quality of life.

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