According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ most recent data, there are 39.6 million Americans over the age of 65.
That is more than 12.9 percent of the current population in the United State. This number continues to increase each year and will most likely continue through the year 2030. With this ever-increasing population, maintaining and enhancing quality of life is essential to those individuals 65 and older. Exercise plays a major role in healthy aging.
Incorporating activities like endurance exercises, strength training, flexibility and balance can truly improve how we age.
Having good cardiovascular health and endurance can help with such things as walking longer and farther. Great strength, both upper and lower body, may help with stair climbing, getting up from a chair and carrying groceries. Maintaining flexibility through aging is essential in driving, reaching in cupboards and bending to tie your shoes. Balance is crucial in helping to decrease your risk of falls and improve body awareness.
These are all things that you can work on around your home. A simple walk at a decent pace can improve endurance, using a stretch band can improve strength, a full body stretching routine can enhance flexibility and single leg balance exercises can improve body awareness.
If you are looking for more structure, find a place that caters to your needs. Many insurance companies like United Health and Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield will actually pay for a gym membership. Check with your insurance plan to see if you qualify.
Other programs that can get you started on a healthier path are: Curves, which has an exercise program that welcomes older adults, specifically women. You can get a strength and cardio workout in just 30 minutes. The YMCA offers Silver Sneakers and Silver and Fit classes. These classes specifically cater to an older adult population. Not only will you get a fabulous workout that incorporates endurance, strength, flexibility and balance, but you may even make some friends along the way. Aqua classes are also wonderful for this population. Being in a pool environment can be excellent for those individuals suffering from such things as arthritis and those that have difficulty with ambulation. Both land activities and aqua activities can benefit you greatly. Through the end of June, at the downtown Watertown YMCA, aqua fitness classes include “Arthritic Aquafit,” “Healthy Seniors,” even “Aqua Zumba,” “Aqua Yoga” and “Aqua Pilates,” all offered for various skill levels. For information on class times, visit www.watertownymca.org.
So, the question is: What are you waiting for? Get moving, get active and age gracefully.
As with any new fitness plan, check with your physician to make sure an exercise program is right for you.
Michelle L. Graham, MS, is wellness director for Watertown’s Downtown YMCA. Contact her at email@example.com.