Wednesday, May 28, is a day set aside to remind everyone that you can be active no matter your age. Always set for the last Wednesday in May, National Senior Health & Fitness Day® is the nation’s largest annual health promotion event for older adults. This 21st annual event will see 100,000 older adults participating in activities at more than 1,000 locations throughout the U.S.
Organized as a public/private good health partnership by the Mature Market Resource Center (MMRC), Senior Health & Fitness Day offers fitness activities for older adults. Programs will range from small group exercise demonstrations in community senior centers to walking tours and health fairs. Most programs include an exercise or physical activity component, as well as information about senior subjects. Check with your local senior center, YMCA, or other community organizations to see what activities are being offered in your area.
- Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart—which improves your health—and gives you more energy to do the things you like to do. It can also increase the amount of sleep you get at night and may reduce the time it takes for you to fall asleep. Water exercise may be a good choice for some older adults.
- Strengthening exercises can help you maintain your muscle, strengthen bones, and protect knees and other joints. These exercises include resistance training, such as lifting weights.
- Flexibility and stretching—which help provide a full range of motion for muscles and joints—can help you function at home, at work, and socially. Everyday tasks that are hard for you, such as tying shoelaces or reaching to a shelf, may become easier. When you stay flexible, you also keep a more natural walking pattern and decrease your chance of falling. Most flexibility that seems to be lost through aging is caused not by aging but by inactivity or lack of movement.
- Balance exercises help you have good posture. They can also be helpful to improve coordination and reduce your risk for falls. One type of balance exercise is to stand on one leg for 10 seconds. Stand on a flat surface and use a stable object (such as a heavy chair) for support. Yoga classes or DVDs can teach you poses that help improve your balance.
If you’d like to improve your blood pressure, your cholesterol, your sleep, and your bone density, get active! You might lower your risk of hip and spinal fractures, falling, coronary artery disease, diabetes, depression, obesity, and even some types of cancers!
Talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program to make sure it’s the right choice for you. If you have physical limitations, remember that exercise doesn’t necessarily mean running a marathon or lifting huge amounts of weight. Start small, with maybe five or 10 minutes of activity each day and increase your goals slowly. Maybe it’s a short walk or just exercising in your chair. Give it a try!