AASC

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Email: cpatton@aasc.org

Exercise seems important for the younger generations for the most obvious reasons—vanity and weight control. When you are young you want to look your absolute best for weddings, reunions, and birthdays. As a person ages, vanity and weight control take a backseat to parenthood, family dinners, and grandchildren. While some would support this stating that family time is more important than the size of clothes you wear, it is actually the opposite. Exercise is just as important if not more so as a person ages. The older a person becomes the more susceptible they become to bone fractures and breaks, loss of muscle mass, and loss of flexibility.

I have no doubt that most people reading this are countering the previous statement with, “What about my arthritis? The extra stress exercise would add to my already frail body would cause problems. What about my chronic health problems?” Those are all good points to make because those in fact are some of the main reasons that America’s senior population become sedentary. The truth is that exercise may cause some flair-ups in current health problems if it is not executed correctly. The key to exercise for the elderly is starting slow with low resistance and build gradually until you reach a point you are comfortable with. Of course, the first thing anyone looking to start an exercise regiment needs to do is contact their doctor for their professional advice.

Walking, riding a bicycle, light jogging, or swimming are excellent ways to attain the recommended 30-minutues per day five days a week. However, for some those exercises may not be feasible. I know I cannot see my grandmother climbing on a bike and riding the Appalachian Trail anytime soon. If running a 5k is not in your immediate future start with some balance training you do in the comfort of your own home. Simply stretch your arm, leg, trunk, hip, and shoulder muscles for ten minutes a day. Strengthening these muscles will help you increase your balance so you may be less susceptible to a fall resulting in a broken hip, arm, or shoulder.

For those who have mastered the balance aspect of exercising, incorporating strength training is the next step. To increase your muscle strength use dumbbells, bottles of water, or canned food while watching your favorite television program or after fixing dinner. Over time, you can increase the weight of the dumbbells or get larger things around the house to being exercising with. Muscle groups need to be overworked in order to grow stronger; therefore you will need to do these exercises two to three times a week as opposed to consecutive days. Strength training is beneficial for more than just looking good, it helps with daily activities such as rising from a chair, climbing stairs, or opening jars.

The bottom line is that any type of exercise is going to be beneficial to your health, whether you are 26 or 92. Speak with your health care provider to find the right plan that works best for you and your lifestyle. Who knows, you may even lose some weight and fit back into your “skinny jeans”!