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yogaMovement, sweet movement. We take it for granted, until we meet the day when we can’t move. Most of us never meet that day, but one thing is undeniably true–we are all aging and with age comes a breakdown of the body.

What was once ease of movement becomes increasingly pained and stiff. There is no point lamenting the fact. It just is what it is.

We can do something about it. That is the good news.

Forget about exercise to lose weight. By and large there are no good studies that say that by exercise alone you will lose weight. You will, however, turn fat into muscle, and muscle is what moves us around.

Most of us have considered exercise as “work” and something that we don’t want to do, but do out of guilt to either assist a diet  or to improve our physique–bigger and better abs or a tighter tummy.

Those are shallow goals and doomed, for most of us to fail. For we do not stick with something that feels forced and required. We avoid it, make excuses why we “can’t today,” and otherwise sabotage our efforts.

We should simply move to keep moving. Nothing is more awful than to find a future filled with wheelchairs and canes and sitting in place most of the day because our bodies won’t support us any more. If that happens by accident or disease, then we must accept that, but we do not have to accept it as a “necessary part of aging.”

So start with finding that which is fun. Start with finding that which you can physically do without pain or discomfort. As you get stronger you might move to other things. But start where you can.

There are no proven rules that you must do “it” for 30 minutes or some other arbitrary number. In fact some studies say that ANY movement is better than none. So short sessions of only ten minutes, done maybe three times a day will work their magic.

Walking is usually the easiest thing to start with if you have been sedentary for a long time. A block becomes two and then three, and soon a mile, maybe two. In a few months you will be doing more than you thought possible. Try to be a bit more regimented here. Have a plan: at least five days a week, and probably no more than six. Leave one day to rest.

There are all kinds of advice here. Some say, spend your time taking in the scenery. Others like the boost that music gives them. I often write blog posts in my head, as the dog races ahead and then gets engrossed in a bush or a scent trail. He catches up, while I plod ever forward.

Then try to choose one thing you really love (should walking not be it). Do it as often as you like.  Try swimming or golf, or yoga. Try tennis, or basketball, or aerobics. It’s up to you.

I don’t set any amount for anyone. For me, I walk 50 minutes six days a week with my dog Diego, in the Chihuahuan desert. It’s only a block from our home, and he can run and play off leash, and I can trudge along at a steady pace. I do not pay as much attention to the nature around me as I’d like, because the ground is uneven and I must watch where I walk.

I also swim three times a week for an hour. I simply love this. I do upper body work with Styrofoam “weights” and I do free style laps. The progress I’ve made in the last six months is amazing.

Best of all is that I feel so much better, and my mood is elevated for hours after my walking and swimming. It seems to energize me rather than tire me. I get more done in a day and have greater stamina. As you approach or are in your retirement, you have so much you want to do. It helps to feel good enough to be busy all day doing the things you love!

I used to wake up every morning in a bad mood. It has been that way for me since childhood. Now? Now I do wake up and grouch about all the “tasks” I must complete that day, but then I see Diego’s face, smile, and realize that another great day is about to unfold and I’m going to enjoy moving! My mood elevates just knowing how great I will feel when I’m done.

You can also besides these more directed forms of exercise, incorporate more movement in your day. Turn on the radio and dance for a few minutes. Park farther from the mall doors, or take a walking “windowshop” tour of the mall before doing your shopping. If you work in a building on the tenth floor, walk up the first two, and then take the elevator. Over time, you will make it to your floor without so much as a pant!

I am no doctor, so I won’t talk about other health benefits, except that I know a lot of senior citizens swear by water aerobics to help with arthritis and I can attest that my back issues are improved by 80%. I think your blood pressure also benefits from exercise.  And it sure helps to redistribute  your weight around, and keeps you from gaining. To say nothing of those endorphins that get released and make you feel HAPPY, strong and in control of your life.

So move! You will be so happy that you did.

Hey, and avoid all those “best exercises to lose weight”. They won’t work in the long run, and will just disappoint you. Exercise to feel better and then see if you don’t!