Elders and the Importance of Exercising
Submitted by: Katherine Law, RN and Charlita Thacker, Tribal Injury Prevention Coordinator
Staying active can keep you feeling and looking your best at every stage of your life. An active lifestyle is especially important for senior health because regular exercise can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. Although it sounds counterintuitive, an active lifestyle can also reduce the pain associated with arthritis. By improving balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength, older adults can stay healthier longer. “There is a powerful myth that getting older means getting decrepit” says Chanda Dutra, PhD, Clinical Gerontology Branch at the National Institute on Aging. Many of the symptoms we associate with old age-such as weakness and loss of balance, are actually symptoms of a sedentary lifestyle. Just one in four people between the ages of 65 and 74 exercise regularly. Many assume that they’re too out of shape, or sick, or tired, or just too plain old to exercise.
There are many reasons why we tend to slow down and become less active with age. It may be due to health problems, weight or pain issues, or worries about falling. Or perhaps, you think that exercising just isn’t for you. But, as you grow older, an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever to protect your health. Getting moving can help boost your energy, maintain your independence, protect your heart, and manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as your weight. Regular exercise is also good for your mind, your mood, and your memory.
Starting or maintaining a regular exercise routine can be a challenge at any age, and it does not get any easier as you get older. If you have never exercised before, you may not know where to begin. A good starting place is to meet with your health provider and obtain medical clearance before starting an exercise routine. This is especially important if you have pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. Your health provider can advise you as to what types of exercises are best for you, and what exercises, if any, you should avoid.
If you have not yet joined the TIPCAP Fall Prevention Exercise Program at the Senior Center, now is the perfect time to do so. This
class will keep you motivated while also providing a source of fun, stress relief, and a place to meet friends. The TIPCAP program will help you improve your balance, flexibility, endurance and strength, all of which can help prevent falls.
Exercise improves more than your physical health. It can boost your memory and help protect you from dementia. It can also help you maintain your independence and your way of life. If you stay strong and agile as you age, you’ll be more able to keep doing the things you enjoy. Remember to start slowly and aim for light to moderate intensity exercise for short periods of time. Increase gradually over a period of weeks to months. Soon you will be meeting the CDCs exercise recommendation of 150 minutes a week of physical activity. Add two days of resistance training, to build muscle mass, and some stretching, and your exercise routine is set.
A recent Swedish study found that physical activity was the number one contributor to longevity, adding extra years to your life, even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years. But exercise is not just about adding years to your life. Exercise is about adding life to your years. You’ll not only look better when you exercise, you’ll feel sharper, more energetic and experience a greater sense of wellbeing
TIPCAP exercise every week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays at 11:00 a.m., at the Senior Center. Each day you will work out different muscles and the exercises are about 30 minutes long.