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Why seniors should focus on fitness

SENIORS who want to stay strong, healthy and cut their risk of chronic disease should get moving.

That's the verdict from fitness leaders who say Aussies who embrace exercise in their later years can reap a host of health benefits.

University of Queensland exercise expert Tina Skinner said aging resulted in major changes to the body that influenced our capacity to maintain independence, function and quality of life.

"By doing exercise and specific types of exercise you will be able to improve muscle strength, heart health and be able to extend life - but more importantly, improve the quality of that extended life," she said.

Dr Skinner, from UQ's School of Human Movement and Nutritional Sciences, said heart disease was our leading cause of death so regular cardio was vital.

"An important aspect is to get enough exercise and get the intensity of that exercise to a sufficient level," she said.

She also recommended weight bearing exercises to keep bones strong and prevent loss of muscle mass associated with aging.

"You also need to get your resistance training in there," she said.

Dr Skinner said the benefits of exercise spanned many chronic conditions and it could help prevent or reduce progression of several types of cancer, mental health problems and diabetes.

"Exercise is medicine for these conditions," she said.

She said exercise specialists could help those new to working out or with chronic conditions with a structured routine to maintain safety and optimise the benefits.

Another option with a social bonus is to join an exercise group for seniors.

She reminded seniors it was never too late to start exercising.

"Something is better than nothing - if you are currently doing no exercise whatsoever doing something will be beneficial," she said.

"Work on trying to get some physical activity into your life every day, not matter what condition you're currently in, and progress from there."

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