Pella Chronicle

Opinion

March 11, 2011

Ouder en Wijzer (Older & Wiser)

Pella — Healthy and Happy!

Here we go again - another message about keeping healthy and fit.  Have you already heard it all?  Well, I hope not!  I want to share some specific things that Seniors can do right now to get moving and have a longer and more enjoyable life.  

First of all, it’s NEVER too late to start exercising.  Just remember some important pointers.

•Don’t procrastinate!  Just like your younger counterparts, it’s easy to put off starting.  “No time”, or “It’s too hard”, or “It takes too long to see results”, are common excuses.  Don’t fall into this trap!  Start today – there’s no time like the present!

•Remember the benefits:  regular physical activity not only makes you look and feel good, it reduces your risk for various serious conditions that only get worse as we age.  These include heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure and obesity.

•More benefits!  Exercise maintains mobility, keeps bones and muscles strong, helps with balance, combats frailty, increases metabolic rate, burns calories, decreases body fat, improves immune function, and promotes bone density.  WOW!  That’s a lot of benefits for just a few hours a week of regular exercise!

•Regular  can reverse age-related brain decline!   In some amazing findings, substantial evidence proved that aerobic exercise and physical activity has an effect on the following brain functions:  task coordination, planning, working memory, and the ability to switch tasks.  Believe it or not, studies have also shown that regular moderate exercise increases speed and sharpness of thought, volume of brain tissue, and ways the brain actually functions.  There is also evidence that the deterioration of gray matter (brain nerve tissue) lessens in active Seniors  vs the gray matter of their less active peers.

Enough said!  You get the picture!  Now, how to get started and what to do?  Here are some ideas.

•First and foremost, check with your doctor before you start any exercise program.  He or she may even give you some specific exercises that would be best for you.

•Start slowly and give yourself time to build up to longer repetitions or longer time periods.  Never hurry or try to do more than you should.

•Choose exercises that are simple, painless, and are not too difficult for you to do from the very beginning.   There are so many exercises to choose from, I’ll just give you a few ideas here.  Check out the resource list at the end of this article to find more!

•Chair Aerobics.  Sitting exercises are fantastic for Seniors.  Sitting keeps pressure off bones and joints yet has the potential to provide cardiovascular benefits.  

•Walking.  Here at Vriendschap, we have quite a few residents who walk our nice, long hallways every day.  Some of these lovely people are over 90 but they are determined to keep healthy.  (If any of you want to come on over to Vriendschap and walk our halls, just give me a call!)  If you use a walker, remember it’s called a “walker” not a “stander”!  

•Exercise Machines.  At Vriendschap, we also have an exercise room with a treadmill and exercise bike.  Both of these get quite a bit of use from our residents.   You can purchase one for your home, borrow one from your kids (who probably aren’t using them!) or use one at the gym, which leads me to my last suggestion.

•Join the Gym.  Many fitness clubs have great exercise ideas for Senior Citizens and can even spend some one-on-one time with you to get you started.  There would a cost, or course, but one that would be well worth it!

Finally, here’s a list of online resources you or your family can check for more specific exercises, ideas on how to get started, what clothes and shoes are best, and all of the amazing benefits of regular exercise for Senior Citizens.

ehow.com offers lots of ideas, videos, photos, and articles about exercise for Senior Citizens.  Just go to their home page and type in “exercise for Senior Citizens” in the search area and you’ll find a great list!

 seniors.lovetoknow.com is another great place for information.  Just type  “exercise” in the search area.

 nihseniorhealth.gov is another great resource!  This is the National  Institute for Health and they provide lots of information here!

Kathi Gross lives in Pella and works as the Activity/Marketing Director at Vriendschap Village.

 

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