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Important to stay fit, strong as you age

April 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Use it or lose it. You might have heard that saying in regards to maintaining muscle. But as we age, we've got a host of issues, such as work, family, aches and pains, which seem to get in our way of fitness goals.

Fitness expert Kathy Smith knows how to stay strong and maintain balance and reflexes throughout the years. Turning 60 this year, this international fitness star has been teaching exercise since the 1970s.

"Through the years, the styles of exercise has changed, and... I've really enjoyed staying current," said Smith.

Step aerobics, boxing, dancing, yoga, Pilates - if it was popular, Smith was on it. She produced exercise albums in the late 1970s, then videos. She was the first person to come out with an exercise DVD to help people worldwide learn how to sweat in the comfort of their living room.

Strength, flexibility, coordination, and cardiovascular system are all important parts of fitness, but as you get older one tops the list.

"If there's one message I want to get out there to everybody it's that this idea of muscle and staying strong is what keeps people young and active and energetic," said Smith.

She says everyone starts to lose muscle mass after the age of 30 and it starts to accelerate for women after menopause. It also happens when we live a more sedentary lifestyle rather than staying active.

"Our body always adjusts to whatever environment it's in, so as we limit our movements, as we get older, we move less and less. That combination really can inhibit the health of the body," said Phil Dozois, owner of Breakthru Fitness in Pasadena, Calif. "We sit a lot. We sit in our cars, we sit on the couch, we sit at our desk."

Dozois says we don't move side to side very much. He says it wouldn't hurt any of us to stand, turn and rotate our body more when we do simple tasks like laundry, gardening or everyday activities.

Find activities you like, or think you like, then do your homework.

"You have to find a partner in crime, somebody that will go and do this stuff with you. Find a class and find a teacher that will start you out slowly," said Smith. "Just pull the instructor aside and say, 'Hey, I want to jump in your class and I'm a little intimidated,' and get a few pointers."

You can order Smith's new DVD, "Ageless with Kathy Smith: Staying Strong," on Acacia's website