Robert Butler, the first director of the National Institute on Aging, says “If exercise could be packed into a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation.”
It’s a fact that most adults don’t get enough exercise. With few exceptions, nearly everyone can participate in some sort of activity that leads to improvement in health if performed in the correct intensity and frequency, no matter your age. No group in our population benefits more from exercise than seniors. Exercise improves mood and relieves depression and can lessen the symptoms of certain underlying diseases and disabilities. Staying physically active on a regular, permanent, basis improves cardiovascular fitness, reduces susceptibility to heart attacks and strokes, enhances metabolism, delays age related deterioration of some muscles and bones, and improves brain function. According to the National Institute on Aging, each year, more than 2 million older Americans go to the emergency room because of fall related injuries. Balance and stretching exercises can help prevent falls and avoid a disability that can result from a fall.
Remember the old saying “Use it or lose it”? If muscles aren’t used, they waste away. Humans lose 20 to 40 percent of their muscles as they age. Studies show that having muscle mass may mean the difference between a senior’s ability to get up from a chair, or needing someone there to help them get up. Strong muscles reduce the risk of serious falls that cause broken hips and other disabilities. Tufts University conducted a study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, showing that gradual loss of muscle results in seniors burning fewer calories while at rest which can lead to weight gain. This study suggests that seniors can regain some of their more youthful resting metabolic rate and help avoid obesity with regular muscle-building exercises.
If you’re interested in improving your health through increased physical activity and diet, there’s a great website I want to recommend dedicated to exercise programs specifically designed for seniors. The name of the program is Go4Life and it’s made available through the National Institute on Aging. The Go4Life program focuses on four key exercise categories; Endurance, Strength, Balance and Flexibility. You don’t necessarily have to engage in all four categories to receive benefits from their program. For example, maybe balance and flexibility are of most interest to you. You can work on only those two categories of exercise. I encourage you to visit their website. You’ll find downloadable worksheets and tip sheets, visual examples of every exercise, goal setting and tracking sheets, tools and tips for healthy eating and more. The best part is, it’s all free! You don’t need any special equipment, you can get started today!
By Vinny DiNicola
Be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Vinny DiNicola is a Certified Senior Advisor® and owner of HomeLife Senior Care with wife Angela. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org