May 23, 2008

During Older Americans Month, American Specialty Health Offers Seniors 10 Tips On How to Stay Active and Fit

Staying Healthy Can Help Stave Off Chronic Disease and Other Illness Later in Life

The millions of baby boomers set to turn 65 years old this decade are leading a vast wave of aging adults that has been called the “Silver Tsunami.” By 2030, the number of boomers aged 65 and older will more than double to 71 million older Americans, according to The State of Aging and Health in America 2007 report. Seniors will comprise roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population at a time when the nation is facing a shortage of geriatricians, nurses, primary care doctors, physical therapists, and home health care workers.

“Older adults can do a lot to preserve their health, level of fitness, and longevity just by changing a few simple things in their lives today,” said Dr. Douglas Metz, Chief Health Services Officer for Silver&Fit, a fitness program that provides seniors with unique fitness, nutrition, and health education classes and events. “We suggest the following tips to help seniors stay active, healthy, and fit for a long and happy life.”

Ten Tips For Better Health:

1. Commit to an exercise program that suits your lifestyle and needs.

Say the word “exercise” and most people’s eyes glaze over. But exercise comes in all kinds of packages — from fun and social, to private and reflective, to challenging and regimented. If you like being with others, consider activities such as dancing, golfing, biking with a bike club, or playing tennis. If you prefer exercise that is more private, how about walking, jogging, gardening, or yoga? For people who want something more regimented or challenging, an aerobics class at a local gym or running a 5K or some other competitive event may be better options. The key to a successful exercise program is to do something you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it for months or years to come. If you haven’t exercised in awhile and you’re thinking of starting a new program, check with your doctor first to see what level of exercise best suits your current health status.

2. Include weight training in your exercise routine.

Research has shown that doing weight-bearing exercise helps prevent or reduce osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, and helps enhance muscle tone, flexibility, and cardiovascular health.

3. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of water.

Eat foods from all food groups, but eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit fat, cholesterol, salt, sugar, and processed foods to decrease your risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated and keep skin healthy.

4. Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

Most everyone knows that being overweight can increase your risk of chronic diseases such as heart and circulatory diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure, but did you know that being overweight increases your risk of cancer? Research shows that overweight is linked to high incidences of many kinds of cancer. A healthy body weight can help you manage, prevent, or decrease your risk of many chronic diseases and injuries.

5. Manage stress.

Stress has been linked to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, compromised immune system, and depression. Decrease stress by keeping your mind and body active, practicing relaxation techniques through classes or tapes, avoiding high stress environments and people, getting enough sleep, and asking for help when you need it.

6. Live a tobacco-free life.

Free your body from nicotine. As soon as you quit, you begin improving your overall health and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

7. Get enough sleep.

Sleep supports your immune system, helps you cope with stressful situations, and allows you to feel alert and prepared. If you have a hard time sleeping eight hours a night, take short naps during the day to relax and rejuvenate your body.

8. Drink alcohol only in moderation (or not at all).

Drink in strict moderation: one drink per day for women, two for men.

One drink is one 12-ounce beer, one five-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled liquor.

9. Live safely.

Learn and practice safe living habits. Don’t drink and drive, abuse alcohol, or use drugs. Wear a seatbelt when driving, wear a helmet when riding a bike or motorcycle, and use sunscreens and cover-ups to protect your skin from the sun.

10. Get regular medical and dental care.

Have regular physical and dental exams, get appropriate screenings and preventative tests, and talk to your doctor or dentist about any symptoms or health problems.

“Getting and staying fit today is an investment that will reap a future of good health, happiness, and independence,” added Dr. Metz.

Silver&Fit is a no-cost fitness and healthy aging program designed to help older adults achieve better health through regular exercise.

Silver&Fit provides: access to local participating fitness clubs, with such amenities as cardiovascular equipment and weights, whirlpools, exercise classes, and saunas, where available; customized exercise classes for seniors; access to many online interactive tools including an online health library; health monitors; and a health store. Seniors receive support from Silver&Fit’s toll-free member services hotline and Web site. Unless required by their health plans, Silver&Fit members pay no copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles to participate in these activities. Seniors can ask their Medicare plan if Silver&Fit is available to them in their area.

Based in San Diego, ASH has over 600 employees and covers more than 13.4 million members in specialty managed care, fitness, and health coaching and wellness programs. For more information, visit ASH online at or call 800.848.3555.

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