Fitness for Healthy Aging – Tips From Our Expert
- June 21, 2022
Fountain of Youth? Probably not, but exercise is the next best thing!
If staying active, healthy and happy as you age is your goal – and why wouldn’t it be? – exercise is the closest you’ll find to the foundation of youth.
According to Christine Morrisson, Fitness Director at North Hill Senior Living in Needham, MA, “exercise is the best tool we have to keep senior joints limber, bones strong and minds active. Exercise can even help fend off depression,” she says.
The science backs her up. According to a 2020 NIH Library of Medicine Review, exercise has manifold benefits to keep an aging body and brain young. Higher levels of exercise may even have some benefit in delaying dementia.
Regardless of your age, there’s no dispute that exercise is the key to vibrancy as we grow older. Morrisson recommends a combination of exercise techniques including strength training, balance exercises, endurance and flexibility.
“But don’t over do it,” she cautions. “Any movement is good. Go slowly, go gently and don’t overwork yourself. Slow and steady will bring incremental benefits that will soon add up to an enhanced state of fitness.”
Residents at North Hill benefit from her advice and training. Working on North Hill’s Helsinki University Research (HUR) machines makes it easy for them to step into a new exercise program safely. Based on research focused on putting less stress on joints while still building muscle mass, the machines create resistance through air pressure instead of weights. To make things even easier, each resident’s program is personal and computerized. No re-setting weights or seat heights!
North Hill Seniors also benefit from Zumba Gold, chair yoga, balance classes and more; even Wii bowling is a way to enjoy staying active and fit.
North Hill resident Jenny Wilder came to the campus just a few years ago. Even thought she’d never been a swimmer, she took to North Hill’s pool like – well – like a duck takes to water. She swims every day now and feels great, plus she says “her doctor is very happy.”
Other benefits to exercise include relief from arthritis pain, more energy, better mobility, increased flexibility and overall well-being. And of course, walk, walk, walk. It’s a natural form of meditation and requires no special equipment. Do it outside, and you get the extra benefit of bonding with nature which has its own mental health benefits.
Tips from Chris about how to begin a program:
- Start slowly
- Vary your workout
- Wear supportive shoes and comfortable clothing
- Find an exercise buddy
- Stay hydrated
- Warm up with easy movement and cool down with gentle stretches
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