It is never too late to start feeling great, and you are never over the hill, especially if you take the time to walk up one!
Held annually on the last Wednesday in May, today is National Senior Health and Fitness Day – a nationwide health and fitness event held for older adults. More than 100,000 organizations will participate throughout the country. Retirement communities, senior centers, park districts, hospitals, and other locations will provide multiple ways to get active and eat healthy. Get involved by participating with organizations hosting events or find ways to make your own fun to celebrate National Senior Health and Fitness Day!
Start today by making permanent lifestyle changes
A balanced diet and participation in regular exercise are paramount to maintaining a healthy life for people of all ages. For seniors, routine exercise and healthy eating can have an even more noticeable impact on their general well-being.
For most, much of what becomes debilitating later in life may be prevented or advancement slowed through creating a healthy lifestyle. Osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressures, diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, depression, and certain cancers are some of the common conditions which can be positively modified in seniors through diet, exercise, and other simple lifestyle changes.
Consider the role diet plays in health
A good and healthy diet has numerous potential benefits. Heart disease, vascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, strokes, memory problems, osteoporosis, certain cancers, skin, hair and nail diseases, and visual problems are examples of conditions which can be impacted by diet.
Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water are all essential nutrients that make up most cells and tissues in human body. Thus, these essential components need to be provided in in the right measure through diet for the maintenance of good health.
A balanced diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fiber is generally recommended to provide these necessary nutrients. Supplementation with minerals and vitamins, and the intake of plenty of fluids are considered essential to a healthy diet.
Although the quality of food is important, its quantity should not be overlooked. A very healthy diet consumed in too large portions can still lead to a high caloric intake. Moderate portion sizes to achieve daily caloric goals of 1,500 to 2,000 are generally advised. Avoiding empty calories are also important. These are foods which lack good nutritional value but are high in calories. Examples include sodas, chips, cookies, donuts, and alcohol.
Special dietary restrictions for certain conditions are also important to follow. Restricted salt and fluid intake for people with heart failure or kidney disease, or carbohydrate controlled diet for people with diabetes are general examples of such guidelines.
Let’s get moving!
The benefits of exercise in disease prevention and progression cannot be overemphasized. Regular physical activity and exercise can help manage or even prevent a variety of health problems in the elderly.
Some of the numerous health benefits of exercise include:
- Building up physical endurance
- Better sleep quality and duration
- Weight maintenance and burning excess calories
- Better delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues
- Improving the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol
- Optimizing health of the heart, lung, and vascular system
- Maintaining bone and muscle health
- Reducing fall risks and arthritis
Regular exercise 3-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes is strongly advised for seniors. An effective exercise is one which would increase the heart rate adequately to about 75% of maximum heart rate. A person’s maximum heart rate is roughly calculated by subtracting age from the number 220.
Walking, swimming, and exercise machines are generally safe and can help achieve these goals. Balance exercises, flexibility exercises, and resistance exercises (weight lifting) can also be beneficial.
Here are some ideas to get your active lifestyle kicked off or restarted today:
1. Go to the Park
Park and Recreational Departments are getting involved in National Senior Health and Fitness Day, offering the opportunity for seniors to get out in nature. Check out local events near you or plan your own day at the park, filled with trail walking and a picnic!
2. Attend a Fitness Class
What more appropriate way to spend National Senior Health and Fitness Day than by attending a fitness class? Whether at a local community center or private gym, look for a structured workout session. Having an instructor helps demonstrate proper technique to prevent injury while a large group of people heightens motivation and energy!
3. Walk to Health
Organizations near you may be organizing walking events, so take advantage of such. But not all fitness activities have to be structured, and can include a walk with close friends and family members. Whether walking on your favorite trail or around the neighborhood, enjoy a brisk stroll with loved ones.
4. Work in the Garden
Gardening is a leisurely hobby promoting both health and fitness. Attend to a personal or community garden or plant a garden bed or pot filled with fresh produce of herbs. Take gardening a step further, with personal crop or purchased from the grocer, and cook a meal with fresh produce filled with extensive nutrients to nourish the body.
5. Shake it
Move and dance to the music! Whether signed up for a Zumba class or in the comfort of your own kitchen, there are endless possibilities when it comes to dancing, as it can be done just about anywhere.
6. Schedule A Health Screening
Along with being active, be proactive with health. Scheduling a health screening keeps seniors in the know of their own personal health and offers a chance to take preventative measures or actions, which may also be dependent on the physical results and discussions held with a healthcare professional.
Volunteering is a chance to offer health and wellbeing not only to yourself but affords opportunities to extend it to others. Seek out volunteer options at health fairs to spread the word of good health, food pantries to offer nutrition to individuals in need, or through any other such events available in your community or area.
As a general precaution, if symptoms such as chest pain or tightness, shortness of breath, or fainting or dizziness occur during or after exercising, it is important for the individual to stop the exercise and notify their physician promptly. Always consult with a physician before starting any new fitness regimen.
In addition to diet and exercise, other important life style modifications for leading a healthier life include:
- Smoking cessation
- Brushing and flossing teeth twice a day
- Visiting a dentist annually or biannually
- Limiting alcohol intake to one drink daily
- Using skin moisturizers and sun protection
- Going to the primary care doctor routinely
- Engaging in routine and scheduled social activities
- Reviewing list of medications with your doctor(s) often
- Adhering to routine sleep schedule and using good sleep hygiene
- Following recommended instructions for health screening, preventive tests, and vaccinations
- Following up with eye doctor and foot doctor, especially for people with diabetes
- Being aware of potential medication side effects and drug interactions, to include over-the-counter drugs, herbals, and alternative medicine
- Staying proactive in own healthcare and participating in decision making
Finding the right physician and keeping up with your medications can be challenging. We are here to help! To find a healthcare professional, use HealthLynked. It is a first of its kind medical network built as a social ecosystem with a higher purpose – improving healthcare. Go to HealthLynked.com to learn more, sign up for free, connect with your doctor, find a new doctor, and securely store and share your health information. Download our HealthLynked app available on Apple and Android devices.