Staying Fit as We Age

Amara Rose June 14, 2016 8

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Aging in the Third Millenium: Part 2


If we’re going to live longer and make new friends to help us enjoy the journey, it only makes sense to keep our traveling vessels in excellent condition. Not the car; a vehicle we use even more often, but may not service as well: our bodies.

This fantastic four-minute video demonstrates how to “disrupt” aging, no matter what our age. It illumines the truth that how we perceive “old” has more to do with how we feel than with our chronology. And how we feel begins with taking care of the body. In fact, physical fitness is the highest projected growth area for senior health and wellness, with a predicted $8.2 billion in cumulative revenues between 2015 and 2020.

Stride Right

You know that “old person” shuffle? A new university study of masters level runners reveals what causes it. Stride length and running speed slow by about 20 percent from age 20 to 59 — and ankle power decreases by almost half during the same period. As we age, strength training can make a big difference.

The National Institutes of Health suggests a range of senior exercises to build endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility, for both upper and lower body. You can try this simple test for musculoskeletal strength if you’re over 50. The results might shock you.

Cut A Rug

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

One reverse mortgage professional, a longtime ballroom dancer, maintains that dancing is one of the best activities to help seasoned adults stay fit, as well as to meet new friends and have fun, and the research backs him up — for mental health as well as physical fitness. A study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine found that seniors who danced three to four times a week — especially those who ballroom danced — had a 75 percent lower risk of dementia compared with people who didn’t dance at all.

Despite a recent New York Times article debunking the “myth” that exercise builds strong bones, it’s still essential for good health, particularly for the older set. While bone growth may be minimal, weight-bearing exercise does decrease the risk of bone fracture, thanks to stronger muscles. And exercise has been shown to slow brain aging by a decade. So your reverse mortgage clients would be smart to tie on those dancing shoes.

Jump into Health and Fitness

A step back from dancing is bouncing. I’ve been rebounding, or jumping on a mini-trampoline, for more than 20 years. Like dancing, rebounding increases cardiovascular functioning, flexibility and balance, so seniors can jump for joy that they’re heart-smart, toned and able to touch their toes. The rebounder’s small size and taut mat make it easy to control movement, and it’s not necessary to bounce high for benefit: you can bounce without your feet ever leaving the mat.

Eighty-year-old cancer survivor Dr. James Rota explains the benefits of what he calls Bouncercise in this short video. My personal favorite rebounder for health and detoxification is made by Needak Rebounders, which offers an optional stabilizing bar attachment that creates a handhold for those who need additional support. Bouncing is a great way to protect precious elder knees, ankles and other joints while getting a full-body workout.

Take A Hike

If dancing or bouncing doesn’t get a senior’s groove on, perhaps the great outdoors holds more appeal. One septuagenarian hiked the 2180-plus mile Appalachian Trail in 2015 with his son, and brought home a backpack full of photos and once-in-a-lifetime memories to share at his local senior center. “Ironman Bill” braved ice, snow, and other weather challenges, took a brief break to nurse a knee injury, reveled in the astonishing beauty of nature, and returned with a strong sense of accomplishment.

Whatever form of fitness seniors choose, it’s important to stick with it as though they’re in training for the contact sport called aging — because we are.

 

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8 Comments »

  1. Jim Mitchell June 14, 2016 at 6:05 am - Reply

    Amara,
    I enjoy all of your articles, but I particularly liked this one. I am a real advocate of exercise, particularly a well balanced weight lifting one. You had some good material in this article and references.
    Thanks…Jim

    • Amara Rose June 14, 2016 at 9:45 am - Reply

      Thank you, Jim! I am honored to be of service… and hopefully this information will help the seniors you work with as well.

  2. Dick Diamond June 14, 2016 at 9:48 am - Reply

    Good morning, Amara:

    Every day I wake up healthy is a “good morning”.

    I really do like this particular blog post; it has lots of excellent advice. As more and more people qualify for Medicare and have insurance that offers Silver Sneakers, they should take advantage of it and join a gym. It is free to them through that program, and there are a lot of places you can go…even when you travel.

    We are dancing tonight at a Senior Center that is having a USO dinner dance party for their residents and prospective newcomers. They have a DJ and a dance floor and are hoping if we get up on the dance floor it will get others to do the same. Sometime during the evening they want us to do a Showcase dance, and we selected a Rhumba to some beautiful music named Rhumba DePeurto. Since I don’t own any military uniforms from WWII, I will wear my one and only patriotic red, white and blue shirt with a partial flag design. This is part of the outreach we like to do for our USA Dance local chapter.

    I always look forward to your blogs!

    • Amara Rose June 14, 2016 at 11:56 am - Reply

      Dick,

      You always add so much value via your comments! Thanks for the reminder about Silver Sneakers — a great resource.

      I’m sure your dance moves will inspire seniors to tie on their dancing shoes and follow suit!

      Blessings,
      Amara

  3. hecmvet June 20, 2016 at 8:07 am - Reply

    With Boomers exercising more and watching what they eat, they are dying healthier than ever before! ha ha

    • Amara Rose June 21, 2016 at 7:09 am - Reply

      That’s right, hecmvet, which means fewer drawn-out, traumatic hospital deaths; lower Medicare expenses (hopefully), and more resources for future generations!

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