Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Becky Harris

Recent Posts by Becky Harris:

Active Aging: Make no bones about it

walking_seniorsHow healthy are your bones? This may not be a question you can answer quickly. Many seniors already have weak bones and don’t know it, but the good news is you’re never too old to take steps towards keeping your bones strong. Strong bones support us and allow us to move well. They protect our heart, lungs, and brain from injury. Our bones are also a storehouse for vital minerals that we need to live.

When you think of bones, you might imagine a hard, brittle skeleton. In reality, your bones are living organs. They are alive with cells and flowing body fluids. Bones are constantly renewed and grow stronger with a good diet and adequate physical activity. The amount of calcium that makes up your bones is the measure of how strong they are. Your muscles and other systems in your body must also have calcium to work. Therefore if it is in short supply from what you get in the foods you eat, your body will simply take the calcium from the storage in your bones.

Falls are a common thing you hear about when discussing senior bone health. It is a major reason for trips to the emergency room and for hospital stays among older adults. You can help prevent fractures by maintaining the strength of your bones. If you fall, having healthy bones can prevent hip or other fractures that may lead to a potential severe disability. If bones are fragile, even a minor fall can be detrimental.  

Some things that weaken bones are out of your control. For example, if your family member has a bone problem, you could also be at risk. Also, some medical conditions can make you prone to bone disease. But there are also several things you can do to maintain your bone health as you age. 

Each day, calcium is deposited and withdrawn from your bones. If you don’t get enough calcium, you could be withdrawing more than you’re depositing. Be sure to get an adequate amount, this can be done by eating calcium-rich foods and taking supplements. It can be found in dairy products such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. You can also get it from orange juice, nuts such as almonds, soybeans, fortified cereals, and dark green, leafy vegetables such as broccoli and collard greens.

Vitamin D is necessary to help your body absorb the calcium. As you get older, your bodies need for vitamin D also increases. It is made by your skin when you are in the sun but many older people don’t get enough vitamin D this way. Eating foods with vitamin D, such as salmon, mushrooms, and fortified cereals and milk will greatly benefit your body. You can have a blood test done to check for a vitamin D deficiency or abnormal calcium levels. Taking supplements can help as well, talk to your doctor about how much vitamin D you need.

Physical activity is another way to keep your bones strong. Try to get a total of at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, even if it’s broken up into 10 minutes three times a day. Participate in activities like walking, dancing, stair climbing, gardening, or strength training. When you jump, run, or lift a weight, it puts stress on your bones which sends a signal to your body that your bones need to be made stronger. New cells are then added which strengthens your bones.

Talk to your doctor about your bone health questions and concerns; together you can evaluate your risks. The doctor might recommend a bone density test. This is a safe and painless test that will assess your overall bone health and determine your risk for fractures. It is recommended that women over 65 and men over 70 should all have a bone density test.

By 2020 half of all Americans over 50 will have weak bones unless we make changes to our diet and lifestyle. As discussed, a diet that includes enough calcium and vitamin D and physical activity can help prevent bone loss and fractures. Take initiative today to keep your bones healthy and strong!

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Topics: active aging bone density senior living community healthy living

Active Aging: Beating the cold weather blues

The cold weather is here in full force. Not only does it bring snowmen and hot chocolate, but also more aches, pains, and for many, the cold weather blues. It is known that the change of season can cause depressive feelings. Don’t let that happen to you, here are a few tips to get through the cold weather this year feeling your best.

  1. Stay physically active. Regular exercise can help boost both your mood and immune system. There are so many ways to stay active during the winter. Do what it is you enjoy doing most. Whether it is participating in group exercise classes in your community, going to the fitness center on a regular basis, getting in the pool for a swim, or maybe it is walking through the halls. Try to pick an activity that increases your heart rate but allows you to still hold a conversation. This is a great way to monitor your intensity level when working out.
  2. Eat healthy. Winter typically can trigger a “hibernation diet,” one full of sweets and high fat food. Try to avoid that. Eating the proper foods can be beneficial to both the immune system as well as emotional well-being. Omega-3 fatty acids, “the good fats,” have been shown in studies to reduce depression and the associated symptoms. You can consume Omega-3 fatty acids in foods such as walnuts, salmon, and flaxseeds. Vitamin D is also helps boost energy levels. Lastly, remember to drink enough fluids to stay hydrated. During the winter it is easy to drink less, but your body still needs water to functional optimally.
  3. Stay involved in your community. Avoid staying alone in your apartment all day. It doesn’t matterseniors_sledding what you choose to do, stay connected because you will benefit both emotionally and psychologically. Consider socializing with a new resident, having dinner with friends, volunteering, taking up a new activity, or joining a club. Keeping yourself busy will fill your days with activities and socialization.
  4. Let the sun in. Keep the blinds open in your apartment and take advantage of the natural heat that the sun produces. Not only does the warmth feel great, but sunlight is a free mood enhancer. Sunlight encourages our body to produce Vitamin D, which can control feelings of satisfaction. The sunlight also regulates our melatonin and serotonin hormones. These are chemicals that the brain releases to control mood.
  5. Embrace the season. Winter might not be your favorite season, but do your best to accept and enjoy the beauty of what it brings. Try to avoid talking and thinking negatively about it as much as possible, and encourage others to do the same. Researchers say that positive thinkers are often healthier and less stressed.

Making just a few small changes can end up helping you immensely; start incorporating them into your current lifestyle today to see for yourself. Spring flowers and summer nights will be here before you know it, but for now, enjoy the winter!

Check out this blog post about wellness and how it's not just exercise, it's multi dimensional.

Topics: active aging cold weather exercise