Blast Off: With age comes wisdom, and the need for exercise!

Exercise has been termed the fountain of youth for a reason, and if you are a senior, this statement should have even more meaning.

Exercise has been termed the fountain of youth for a reason, and if you are a senior, this statement should have even more meaning. This valley is filled with active seniors who are committed to staying healthy and mobile, and it shows. Time and time again we hear comments such as “ever since I started exercising regularly, I’ve been able to spend far more time doing daily activities pain-free”. Activities such as gardening or keeping up with grandkids become easier due to the increased strength and mobility gained from regular exercise. It’s never too late to start!

According to The National Institute on Aging and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular physical activity is the best solution for seniors looking to stay independent, flexible and healthy. By keeping your body mobile, you have a greater chance of not only avoiding slips or falls, but recovering faster should one happen. As we age, our bones begin to lose density, which is what can lead to osteoporosis. Exercise is known to increase this density, which is especially beneficial for the hips and spine.  When you lift weights or even walk briskly, the movement puts stress on your bones which actually encourages and stimulates growth. With age, your body’s motor nerves also begin to deteriorate, thus slowing your reaction time, balance and hand-eye coordination. The only way to improve these things, no matter your age, is by putting them to the test! A simple exercise to test your balance is to stand on one leg (stand near a wall or sturdy chair) and once you get your balance, close your eyes and start a timer.  See how long you can hold your balance, and then repeat on the other leg. Try this a few times a week and you’ll see improvements in no time!

So how much is enough? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aim for two hours and 30 minutes a week. Although that seems like a big amount of time, fear not; you can split it up into 10 minute blocks to make it more manageable, but since it’s a shorter time frame, you must make it moderate intensity. In order to figure out what seems moderate for you, use the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale. On a scale of one to 10, one being sitting on the couch and 10 being working at your hardest, you want to feel like you’re at a five or a six, or in other words as though your breathing and heart rate have increased. Examples of aerobic activities include lawn mowing, stair climbing, hiking, and dancing. When it comes to resistance training, two days a week on alternating days should be the minimum. You could use hand weights, use a resistance band, or do body weight exercises such as squats and pushups. Last but not least, flexibility should be added to the recipe as well. Try incorporating a flexibility program into your daily routine and you will be amazed by how quickly you see improvements.

Research suggests that an exercise program can help prevent or delay heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, osteoporosis, as well as potentially delay the onset of dementia.  Regular exercise also helps regulate weight, improve mood and reduce depression. If you already exercise regularly, keep it up, and if you haven’t started yet, there’s no time like the present!

To learn more about what type of exercise program is right for you, contact Fitness 4 Life and take advantage of their discounted 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. pricing. www.fitness4life.tv.

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