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Exercise of the Month: Using Movement to Age Well

Kayla Thompson, MS, ACSM-EP

As we age, it is important to maintain muscular strength. Having a strong core and lower body is crucial to get from one place to the next. Imagine not being strong enough to get up from a chair or walk to your kitchen. While it’s easy to think this will never happen to us, no one is immune to aging and the complications it can bring. According to the CDC, about 36 million falls are reported among older adults each year – resulting in more than 32,000 deaths. Each year, about 3 million adults are treated in emergency departments for a fall injury. The only way to have confidence when it comes to aging is to take active steps to prevent a decline in your health and mobility.

Overwhelming evidence exists to support the benefits of physical activity in slowing typical age-related changes that impair mobility, promoting mental well-being, managing chronic diseases, reducing the risk of physical disability, increasing longevity, and more. Not only can exercise decrease your risk of falls, but it can also benefit your mind and appearance. If those things aren’t enough, think about the peace of mind you and your family will have as you continue living at home with autonomy.

This advice is not just for older adults – everyone should prioritize movement to be proactive about their aging! Physical activity is important throughout your life. Starting these healthy habits as soon as possible will impact you for years to come. With all of this in mind, what does physical activity look like?

Getting active doesn’t have to be burdensome or all-consuming. If you are brand new to exercise, talk with your health care provider first to ensure you are clear to do what you want to do. Next, try out exercises that excite you. Getting your daily movement in should be fun! Go for a walk with your friends, join a Zumba class, hire a personal trainer, work out with your kids—the list goes on!

You can also look for ways to plan extra movement into daily life. Turn making dinner into a dance party. Try parking farther away at a grocery store or at church, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Having more activity in your day doesn’t mean you need an expensive gym membership! Try going on YouTube and looking for no-equipment home workouts. You can also invest in resistance/exercise bands to use at home. Exercise bands are a great and inexpensive tool to grow your muscles!

For older adults, try focusing on core strength, lower body work, and balance. Try incorporating tandem stances and tandem walks into your daily activity. To do the tandem stance, place your right foot in front of your left foot, directly in front of the other, with the right heel touching the toes of the left foot. Think of placing them as if you were trying to walk on a balance beam. Work to balance this stance and hold it for 30-45 seconds, keeping your head up, your core tight, and your shoulders back. Repeat with the left foot and hold. If you need to hold onto a chair for balance at first, that is fine. You can also Google tandem stance and get all sorts of variations to try.

Go at your own pace, and please be careful! A resistance band is also a great tool for seated or standing exercises to strengthen both your upper and lower body. If you are struggling with balance and feeling uncertain, try speaking with your provider. They may recommend physical therapy, which is a great way to learn how to strengthen your body in a safe environment. Physical therapists can also give you tools to bring with you into your home routine.

Whatever season of life you are in, get up and get active! You’ll never regret taking care of yourself. If you have questions or want more information, please reach out to me at kthompson@hope-health.org.


HopeHealth

HopeHealth

HopeHealth educates its patients on the importance of having a health care home. As a primary care facility, HopeHealth’s medical team works to prevent and detect illness and the early onset of disease, provide routine physical examinations and promote overall healthy lifestyles.

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