For many adults, growing older seems to involve an inevitable loss of strength, energy, and feeling fit. However, it doesn't necessarily need to be so!
According to the Center for Healthy Aging, the frail health and loss of function we associate with aging such as not being able to walk moderate to long distances, climb stairs or carry groceries, is in large part due to physical inactivity. When it comes to our muscles the old adage, "use it or lose it" applies.
There is good news. It is never too late to become more physically active. No one is too old to enjoy the benefits of regular physical activity. Even those with chronic medical conditions can benefit from increased physical activity. Working with their medical provider almost anyone can become more active.
According to William Evans, author of "Biomarkers," a book about healthy aging, "There is no single group that can benefit from physical activity more than the elderly."
Unfortunately, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the following:
28-34% of adults age 65-74 engage in NO exercise
35-44% of adults age 75 and older engage in NO exercise
30-40% of all older people are only occasionally active
At best, 20-35% of seniors regularly achieve the recommended activity levels of at least 20 minutes of exercise 4 or more days a week
Older women were found to be more sedentary than older men
If you are like most people, especially if you have been sedentary, you won't be motivated to suddenly take up aerobic dancing, and you don't have to join a gym to get the exercise you need.
Walking is one of the best conditioning exercises and can be done by almost anyone, regardless of age! If the recommendation of 20 to 30 minutes of walking is unreasonable, you can walk for 10 or even five minutes several times a day.
Regular physical activity, even stretching different muscle groups daily, can be helpful to increase flexibility and improve balance. There are many classes such as gentle yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, exercise for arthritis, and others offered throughout the area.
With the many substantial rewards involved and the fun you can have just getting involved in new activities it doesn't make sense to take the retired life sitting down.
For more information on getting active, contact your healthcare provider, local senior center, YMCA or HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, see our website at www.nlh.org, or visit our wellness center at 213 Harrison Street Ext. in Johnstown, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We're your community health and wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.