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Strength training is another important component of physical activity. Its purpose is to build and maintain bone and muscle mass, both of which diminish with age. In general, you will want to do strength training two or three days a week, allowing recovery days between sessions. You should be able to develop a routine, whether with machines, free weights or tubing, that you can complete in half an hour.
Finally, flexibility and balance training are increasingly important as the body ages. Aches and pains are high on the list of complaints in old age. Many of them are avoidable, the result of chronic muscle tension and stiffness of joints; simple flexibility training can prevent these by toning muscles and keeping joints lubricated. Some of this you do whenever you stretch. If you watch dogs and cats, you'll get an idea of how natural it is. The general principle is simple: whenever the body has been in one position for a while, it is good to briefly stretch it in an opposite position.
The best-known formal system of stretching is yoga, now immensely popular in the West. Many different styles of yoga exist, some very vigorous and demanding, some quite gentle. I couldn't be more pleased to see yoga becoming so mainstream in our part of the world; I think it will increase the numbers of healthier and happier people here. But I do not recommend the strenuous forms for everyone. Older people will do best with gentle forms of hatha yoga.
REST AND SLEEP
In addition to adequate and proper physical activity, the human body needs adequate and proper rest and sleep. Most children and young adults have no problem getting them. Older people often do.
The few memories I can retrieve of nursery school and kindergarten are of afternoon naps after milk (which I didn't like) and cookies (which I did), curled up on a blanket on the floor of a classroom, often in a patch of sunlight coming through a window. It was so easy then to nap and wake up refreshed. I've had to relearn that process in my 60s--without the cookies.
One change I notice is that I get sleepy earlier than I used to, sometimes by 8:30 or 9 if I am having a quiet evening at home. I don't want to go to bed that early, because if I do, I'll get too much sleep or wake up when it's still dark. Sleep experts call this "advancement of the sleep phase" and note that it is a common experience of older people.
So, here is my advice about rest and sleep for healthy aging:
Rest is important. Make time for daily periods when you can be passive, without stimulation, doing nothing.
Naps are good. Try to get into the habit of napping: 10 minutes to 20 minutes in the afternoon, preferably lying down in a darkened room.
To minimize early waking, try to postpone the evening meal until after dusk and schedule some kind of stimulating activity in the early evening.
If your mind is too active when you get into bed, you will not be able to fall asleep, no matter how tired you are. It is good to know one or more relaxation techniques that can help you disengage from thoughts. More on those later.
TOUCH AND SEX