Our bodies go through many natural changes as we age. Some are external and for many, hard to accept, like hair loss and wrinkles. But other changes are internal, and influence the very quality of life.

Training with dumbbellsThe changes in our aging muscles, such as reduction in strength and endurance, impact our ability to fully participate in activities and maintain our independence. Loss of strength means it is harder to open a jar, carry grocery bags or turn a door knob. Loss of endurance can make it harder to vacuum, work in the garden or play a sport.

Natural changes aside, disuse of our muscles from a sedentary lifestyle has possibly the greatest impact on our daily activities. Studies have shown that Americans 50+ are among the most sedentary.

Daily exercise and physical activity can slow down the effects of aging and improve our quality of life. A program of aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises will help improve functional fitness levels. Always talk to your health care professional before starting any exercise program.

The National Institute on Aging has a new campaign, Go4Life, designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life. The Go4Life web site offers free resources on exercises designed to improve not only endurance and strength, but also balance and flexibility. The free online tools help you set fitness goals, track your progress and get coaching tips.

If you want to socialize while you exercise, Oasis has a variety of group fitness programs, including: Building Bones, Chair Yoga, Pilates 50+, Better Balance and more.

Taking positive steps to improve your quality of life through exercise and physical activity can reduce the effects of aging and increase the joy of living life to the fullest.

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