October 17, 2008

Fitness Tips for Older Adults

By Ashley Withers

Physical activity is one of the best things someone 65 or older can do for their health. The National Institute of Health explains that being active can actually decrease risk of falls and fractures (http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exercise/toc.html) by improving balance, flexibility, and strength. However, by age 75 about one in three men and one in two women participate in no physical activity according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that being physically active can keep your mind active, improve your mood, help you sleep, and improve your overall quality of life as you get older. Physical activity can be used to help you control your current health issues as well. Exercising just ten minutes a day has been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease diabetes symptoms.

If you struggle with bone or muscles pain, light resistance exercise like using household items such as canned foods as weights can help to ease these pains and increase bone and muscle strength. Increasing your strength will make it easier to climb stairs or carry groceries.

So let’s get moving! First, consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Any amount of physical activity is good but to experience the most health benefits from being physically activity, you need at least 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.

So what does this mean for you? Start by getting even five minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day of the week and work up to 20 minutes every day by the end of your first month of exercising.

Many seniors are concerned that they need to join a gym to become active; although this is not the case.  If you do not want to leave your home, you still have many options. Gardening, cleaning, or dancing to your favorite music can also be done from the comforts of home and at little to no cost.

Physical activity can be a simple 20-minute daily walk around your neighborhood or a class such as the one offered free of charge by Familias Sanas y Activas taught by Promotora Lina Ruiz. This class is held every Wednesday at 2:00 pm at the Senior Center at 125 East Park Ave in San Ysidro and consists of zumba, aerobics and stretch band exercises, especially designed for older adults. 

So, if it’s possible to improve overall health and slow the natural effects of ageing for little or no cost, what is stopping you? Use Binational Health Week as the first step forward. Visit the official website to view a calendar of events in your community:  www.binationalhealthweek. org.

This message is brought to you by SDPRC/Familias Sanas y Activas.  For more info on our free physical activity programs in South Bay, please contact Sara Solaimani at 619-594-2965 or Liz Mejia at 619-594-2292. 

Withers is a Graduate Student at San Diego State University School of Public Health.

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