by Kimberly Allen R.N.
In the US, any person that has reached the age of 67 years or older is considered a “senior citizen.” However, you don’t have to be a “senior citizen” to feel elderly. As a person with severe arthritis there have been (and still are) days that make me feel old – with a body racked with pain and no desire to move. The advantage I have is the knowledge that moving, whether I want to or not, is the secret to feeling better and having less pain.
Many people when the reach the age of 67 years are not only able to retire but sometimes have no choice but to retire. They suddenly find themselves in a position most have never been in before, they have too much time on their hands and aren’t prepared for it. Many become stagnant and spend their time sitting around thinking about what to do. This inactivity allows for numerous potential health problems including decreased immune tolerance, a loss of general body strength, and flexibility as well as loss of mental equilibrium.
As the “Babyboomers” age and the “senior citizen” population has increased, a great deal of research has gone into maintaining their health. As the population ages medical costs increase so a lot of the research has been focused on prevention. The most important discovery was that activity plays a much bigger role than previously thought. It wasn’t all that long ago that the belief was when you reached a certain age you should rest and ‘sit in a chair on the porch’ that too much activity would cause an early death. Now we know the opposite to be the truth.
The need for seniors (and everyone else, too) to become more active has brought about numerous changes on how senior health is approached. Many insurance companies offer free exercise programs to their members or discounts on premiums if you participate in an exercise program. Though you don’t have to join a program t o be active and exercise regularly, they do have some advantages, one of them being socialization. Many seniors tend to withdraw from social life which in itself can lead to increased health problems. Also, when you join a program there is a licensed instructor to guide you as there are numerous types of exercises and strength training exercises available.
Strength training is a very important component of any exercise program. Scientific research shows that strengthening exercises not only increase the strength of muscles but the bones as well. It also improves balance and coordination which helps prevent falls. the number one cause of injury and broken bones in the elderly is falls. Improving balance and coordination will not only increase your mobility it can significantly reduce your risk of falling.
Walking is a simple exercise that can increase your strength and endurance, you can do it alone or with friends. Yoga has become popular because it is low impact yet has great effects on the mind and body. The type of activity you choose isn’t as important as actually doing it. The more active you are the better your chances for a longer, healthier, and happier life.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.