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Healthy Aging: Engaging with Movement

By Carolyn Spence Cagle

Do you want to focus on your health by becoming more physically active in 2018? If so, you are on the “right track” as a TCU retiree! Healthy aging generally involves exercising at least 30 minutes each day to increase body flexibility, bone mass, strength, and overall fitness for health management. Recent evidence shows that engaging in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercisehas significant health promoting effects even if one does not exercise daily. “Getting up and out to move” benefits all body systems for improved heart and brain health, improved mood, less fatigue and job stress, and better memory. Persons who commit to a regular exercise regimen have less chronic illness or manage their illness more effectively. Older women sustain less bone loss and risk of osteoporosis when they assume a regular exercise program.

How can you identify if you can begin a regular exercise program or need help to meet exercise goals? Here are some ideas:

  • Do you have enough strength to walk 50 feet in 12 seconds?
  • Can you stand up from a chair 5 times in 11 seconds or less?
  • Can you walk about a quarter mile in about 5 minutes?
  • Can you walk at least 6,000 steps each day?

If you can successfully meet those goals, you may choose a variety of exercises to improve or stabilize your health. Assessment and recommendations from fitness/wellness trainers at the TCU Campus Recreation Center can help you begin strength training, swimming, or mind-body [yoga, meditation, tai chi, mindfulness] programs to meet 2018 wellness goals. You also may independently choose to begin a program by walking every day, hiking in nature, or dancing; all of these promote muscle development. bone strength, and positive outcomes outlined earlier.
Increasing your exercise in 2018 also may focus on adding to your usual exercise regimen three daily exercises that improve balance and stability needed to prevent falls. These exercises also help prevent neck, shoulder, back, and hip pain that seems to become more common with aging. Try these exercises to improve your range of motion and balance in less than 15 minutes a day with slow movement for maximal benefit:

  • Balance stands: stand on one foot for up to 30 seconds, stay close to a wall or counter top if you tend to wobble and may lose your balance; once you can stand for 30 seconds on each foot, make the practice bend (good for overall posture and recovery to normal body position).
  • Jumping Jacks: place your feet in a wide stance, arms hanging at your sides;engage your stomach muscles and slowly raise your arms out to your sides and as far over your head as possible; visualize your arms between two panes of glass so that your arms do not move in front of your body; do this exercise 30 times (good for shoulders and spine from lengthy sitting).
  • Windmills: stand with your feet in a wide stance and extend your arms straightout to your sides; take a deep breath and engage your stomach/core muscles; breathe out as you slowly bend at the hip and slightly twist to bring your body toward your right knee; stop if you feel tension in your hips, back, or backs of legs (“listen to your body”); return to your starting position and repeat on the left side; do 10 repetitions on each side of your body (good for hips and spine).

Each of us must choose a different exercise regimen to fit our needs and daily priorities. I like to walk each morning, usually for about 45 minutes, and easily accomplish that by living on a road that empties out to a primary roadway in my rural community. The walk has gentle hills that stimulate my heart and muscles, and a walk up and down a steep hill offers a chance to really get my heart beating! I use my Silver Sneakers membership, part of my Medicare Advantage plan, to do strength training several times a week. I also have been lucky with that membership to find an incredible teacher for yoga classes twice a week; these often push me beyond my comfort zone but have taught me the personal value of a mind-body exercise for my overall health.

Best wishes to you for finding the weekly regimen that works for you and your health goals for 2018!

References:

  • 6 more reasons to get up and move (2017, July 24). Time, 190(4), pp, 40-45. Brown, R. (2015, June 10). The 5 exercises you should do every day. Retrieved from: http://nextavenue.org.
  • Melone, L. (2015, March 16). Weight training after 50: What you need to know. Retrieved from: http://nextavenue.org.