May is national physical fitness month

As an older adult, routine physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health!   No matter your age or abilities, there’s much to be gained from making physical activity a part of your day.

According the National Institute on Aging, being active can help:

1. Improve and maintain your physical strength

2. Improve and maintain your cardiovascular fitness

3. Improve your ability to do everyday tasks

4. Improve your balance

5 Prevent future health problems

6. Manage and improve current health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension or osteoporosis

7. Improve your mood and overall well-being

8. Decrease feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression

Physical activity includes three main categories – endurance or aerobic activity, strength training, and balance and flexibility.

Endurance or aerobic activity

Endurance or aerobic activities help keep your heart, lungs and blood vessels healthy.  They increase your heart rate and speed up your breathing.  Common examples of aerobic activity include walking, taking a dance class, or pushing a lawn mower.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults ages 65 years or older get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week.  Intensity is defined as how hard you are working.  When working at a moderate intensity, you should feel somewhat challenged, but still be able to carry on a conversation.

Strength training

The National Institute on Aging defines strength training as activities or movements that make your muscles stronger.  This type of exercise can help you continue your everyday activities, such as carrying groceries or getting up from a chair.  Some examples of strength training include lifting weights, using a resistance band, or using your own bodyweight to do a pushup.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that older adults perform muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week, working all major muscle groups including the legs, hips, chest, shoulders, back, arms, and abdomen.

Balance and flexibility

Balance and flexibility exercises help your body stay limber, giving you the freedom to perform day-to-day activities as well as other forms of exercise.  These exercises stretch your muscles and prevent you from falling.  Standing on one foot, stretching your arms overhead, or taking a Tai Chi class are just a few examples of balance and flexibility exercises.

According to the National Institute on Aging, certain aerobic activities and strength training movements can improve balance, as well.  To promote health and prevent injury, be sure to include all three categories – aerobic, strength training, and balance and flexibility exercises – into your weekly routine.

Ready to get started?

Being physically active doesn’t mean you have to join a gym or buy expensive exercise equipment.  You can learn to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine!  Take the stairs instead of the elevator, use soup cans to strengthen your muscles at home, or stretch for ten minutes every morning before starting your day.

Small amounts of physical activity throughout the day can help you reach the CDC’s recommended amount of physical activity each week.  Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before beginning an exercise routine to see what activities are best for you and which activities you may want to avoid.

‘Spring’ into fitness with HealthLink Littauer

We currently offer a variety of classes every month including Zumba, Zumba Gold, Chair Yoga and Gentle Yoga.  In June, we’ll begin a Senior Steps walking group and a Stretch & Strengthen class.  Check out our monthly program calendar online at www.nlh.org or call us for a free copy!

If you would like to learn more, attend a special program on ‘Senior Fitness’ in Littauer’s Auditorium on May 23.  You are invited to join us for a buffet-style luncheon at 11:30 for $6 or attend the presentation only at 12 noon at no charge.  To attend, call HealthLink Littauer at 518-736-1120 or email healthlink@nlh.org.  We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.

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