National Senior Health and Fitness Day is approaching with celebrations focused on senior health and wellness across the country on Wednesday, May 27. Many YMCA’s, health clubs, park districts and especially Independent and Assisted Living Communities will structure programs and activities to promote staying healthy as we age! The motto for this year is “Keep Moving and Keep Improving” That got me thinking about not just why it’s important to move but how exercise can actually continue to improve our quality of life.
When I ask our active agers about the possibility of living to the age of 10, they always comment that they would be happy to live to that age under the condition that their bodies and minds are still capable of decent function, not necessarily great or even good function, but decent function to get around and still have cognitive ability. Enough to move!
Movement is defined as “an act of changing physical location or position or of having this changed (a slight movement of the upper body).” The definition is not emphasizing how much or how intensely we need to move, it’s simply saying motion of the body, even slight motion of the body. My goal for National Senior Health and Fitness Day is to promote moving the body! No matter what your limitations, there is an exercise that can be modified to benefit and keep the body moving! The ultimate goal is that by movement (exercise) we will continue to improve quality of life.
So how do you keep moving with limitations?
- First recognize your “movement” limitations and ask are they temporary or permanent? For example, if you broke your ankle and are recovering, or had recent surgery, for most those are temporary “movement” limitations. On the other hand, if you have arthritis in your knees, or have been told you have Parkinson’s then these are more than likely permanent “movement” limitations.
- Second find an exercise routine that focuses on three things:
- Safety! It may be best for you to choose a movement with a limited range of motion or perform it sitting instead of standing.
- Strength! What will strengthen my “movement” limitations? For example, if you cannot move one arm higher than another because of a rotator cuff problem, continue to move them both separately, continuing to keep the stronger side strong and also allowing the weaker side to gain more strength.
- Fun! Whatever you do you need to enjoy it in order to continue doing it! If you enjoy a particular exercise classes, talk to the instructor about modification and your “movement” limitations when necessary. Or, hire a personal trainer to design a program appropriate for you. Remember always consult your physician before starting any exercise program.
The goal is to keep moving! If you keep moving you’ll keep improving! Celebrate National Senior Health and Fitness Day with a lifetime goal to keep moving!