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Active Seniors - Ladue News: Lifestyle

Active Seniors

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Posted: Monday, October 17, 2011 11:33 am | Updated: 1:27 pm, Thu Nov 3, 2011.

As the English proverb affirms: Better late than never. And for an active senior who is interested in a change to a healthier lifestyle, there’s always an opportunity to modify routine, according to Amanda Joggerst, a trainer at Friendship Village. “It’s never too late to change,” Joggerst says. “You just have to take things one day at a time.”

But if you’re a senior who already maintains a good level of activity, she also points out that you shouldn’t try to change it unless it’s difficult to get motivated. “If you’re motivated and you walk every single day for an hour, keep doing it,” she encourages. “Keep making it a priority. I always tell people to schedule time for exercise, so it doesn’t get bumped for something else.”

Consistency is an important aspect of exercise, says Jules Renner, a trainer at The Gatesworth. “Seniors, like everyone, have a tendency to do something for a while and then stop for long periods of time,” Renner explains. “And then they start all over again, and they’re not moving the same way that they used to. They expect their body to move a certain way and it doesn’t, and that’s when accidents can occur.”

Joggerst recommends that before beginning or changing any exercise routine, seniors should talk with their doctors, as well as dieticians and pharmacists. “A pharmacist is going to help you with controlling or changing your meds,” she continues. “And your dietician will help you with your diet. Your doctor will help you with everything.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “those age 65 years and older need 150 minutes of moderateintensity aerobic activity every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups.” It also indicates that increments of 10 minutes at a time spread out over the course of a week is fine. Joggerst agrees that exercise does not have to occur in consecutive minutes, but it should be approached at one’s own pace. “Modify everything to how you feel. The talk test is the best way to determine if you’re working too intensely. If you’re breathing so hard that you can’t speak, then you’re working out too hard.”

Physical activities that Joggerst recommends include walking, biking, lap swimming, pool walking and strength exercises, like arm curls and rowing-type movements. “You always want to keep your wrists straight when using weights,” she notes. “A pound or two is enough for anyone, and if your elbows rock, then you are lifting too much weight.”

Renner believes that swimming is the perfect exercise for active seniors. “For those who don’t mind the water, swimming is probably the best thing you can do because you are slightly supported by the buoyancy of the water,” Renner says. “Because you feel supported, you have a greater sense of freedom and a higher sense of confidence, and so you will move your body more.”

When it comes to walking on a regular basis, Renner also says that a good stride without shuffling is important, as well as stretching and breathing exercises. “You can stretch seated in a chair, bending forward to help open up the hips and lower back, without getting down on the floor,” she explains. “Or when seated, you also can move your arms in swimming motions, forward and backward.”

While standing, Renner recommends holding on to something stable for balance. “To keep muscles strong and flexible, I encourage movements like marching while holding on a balance bar. Some can do a free march, but others are not comfortable with the movement because they’re lifting one foot off the ground, and even though it’s only for a nano-second, they’re compromised. So if they hold on to a balance bar, they’re moving through a greater range of motion with their hips and their knees, and that generally creates more circulation within the muscles, which creates strength in those muscles.”

Renner explains that “physical activity increases the oxygen in their blood and muscles, and that is carried all the way up to the brain. And that gives you a greater sense of clarity and awareness. Exercise also is a great way to release emotion—so not only can you gain mental awareness, but you also experience a sense of contentment. Exercise supports the whole self: mind, body and spirit.”

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