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Graceworks at Home: Time to Get Moving, Senior Citizens

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Time to get moving, senior citizens
Dayton Daily News | May 9, 2017
Marci Vandersluis |

To help celebrate national physical fitness month means getting off the couch and lacing up the sneakers. Keeping active is a must for all age groups and can provide immeasurable benefits as we age. However, despite this common understanding, most people are not moving enough.

It is reported that by age 75, approximately one in three men and one in two women engage in no physical activity. Lack of exercise can have serious health consequences for older adults including increased risk for many chronic illnesses, including hypertension, colon cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease. Those who are physically inactive have more difficulty maintaining a “healthy weight” which may result in an increased chance of developing adult onset diabetes. While exercise can often function as a mood booster, negative emotions may be a consequence for those individuals who choose to live a sedentary lifestyle (CDC). Most surprisingly according to information from the World Health Organization “close to 3.2 million deaths are being attributed to inactivity”.

Although there is overwhelming evidence pointing to the possible negative consequences associated with “taking it easy” there is, fortunately, some very exciting research to further reinforce the physical and cognitive rewards for remaining physically active. In his research, neuropsychologist Arthur Kramer noted that people who remain physically active have lower rates of Alzheimer’s and other age-associated neurodegenerative disorders. Studies from Professor Kramer and others support the understanding that regular exercise can help to improve memory and keep one’s cognition and other “brain” skills including the ability to shift quickly between tasks, and problem solve on par with younger cohorts (AARP). Exercise may also help to reduce hospitalization rates. A stronger brain, healthier body and better fitting clothes. Yes, yes and yes!

All agree that a discussion with one’s physician is key before beginning any exercise or new fitness regimen. This is particularly relevant for historically non-exercisers who have chosen to make this welcomed lifestyle change. It is recommended to try to build up to 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. This might include walking, dancing, biking. To complement cardiorespiratory activity, it is encouraged to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine. Studies have shown that resistance training increases bone mineral mass. Building muscle increases metabolism, and helps to support joints and ligaments (Science Daily). Stronger muscles can help reduce the risk of falling and related injuries through improving balance. Increased strength allows for more success when performing routine daily activities (CDC).

With increased awareness and validity of the necessity of exercise for all, many community centers and gyms are offering classes to meet the needs and preferences of all their members. This might include modified classes, along with additional fitness professional support to help insure success. It might be worth contacting your health insurance provider as many companies offer discounts to help pay for classes or club membership. Walkers, spinners or zumba dancers, make exercise a social event by taking the initiative and inviting friends to join. Engage your community in helping to facilitate exercise initiatives that are accessible for everyone.

Health-care professionals, keep the dialogue going on the importance of making routine exercise a priority.

Marci Vandersluis is a licensed social worker for Graceworks at Home and has a master’s degree in gerontology. With many years of experience helping adults achieve this desire for independence, Graceworks at Home is uniquely qualified to serve individuals requiring a little extra assistance. Call 937-436-7700 to schedule an assessment or to request more information.

Written by Bethany Village

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