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More Vitality with Exercise- much more than a New Years Resolution


            Living with maximum independence requires a strong commitment to your own health. Village leaders know this truth. Village members and those who wish to Age in place need to pay attention to taking very good care of themselves. We know that loneliness and social isolation are not healthy behaviors, so most “aging in community programs” design ways to foster connections, gatherings, personal visits. Leaders help support and encourage members about making home a safe, accessible place, offer guidance for planning ahead with family and friends about end of life decision-making, and with taking responsibility for maintaining strength and fitness. A personal commitment to good self-care is not always easy. For some there are pressures of being a caregiver, for others various infirmities, joint or pain issues have compromised the delight once found in exercise.

            My uncle used to joke about move it or lose it and retirees who remain athletes, dancers, yoga practitioners or regular walkers testify to the importance of these acts of personal care!   Several of our Maryland Village leaders have regular fitness practices involving swimming, walking or biking and their commitment to this part of Self-Care models the importance to their neighbors. Recently I joined a Zumba class for seniors offered through one of my county sponsored recreation centers. Imagine my shock when I walked into my first class one Thursday morning at 10 am to find a basketball gym full of 95 men and women, all over 60 years of age ready to dance it up! Clearly for these older adults dancing to music with a large group of peers makes exercise a fun activity.

            What is your Village doing to support your members with this? In Chestertown Homeports Village recently offered a Physical Therapy presentation that shares some good points we can all consider to help maintain our maximum independence. Plus our regular blogger Jack Matthews shares his insight on staying fit.

 Muriel Cole our Blogger from Chestertown’s Home Prots shares this reprint from her article in Seniors Matter February 2013

Balance and Strength

            Can you stand on one foot for 30 seconds? If not, you are at a moderate risk for falling. If you can’t make it for 15 seconds, you are at a greater risk. Those guidelines were presented by Joanna Blackburn at a public presentation sponsored by HomePorts here last month.

            Blackburn, who holds a Doctorate of Science in Physical Therapy from the University of Maryland, outlined strategies for staying strong and mobile, and her tips are worth sharing.

            “It creeps up on you,” she says. “Hip, knee, back, and/or shoulder pain are common as we age,” according to her, but she adds that we can reverse deficits with exercise.

            She recommends weight-bearing exercises, beginning with one and three-pound weights. The three areas to work are 1) the trunk and back, 2) the upper body, and 3) the lower body. She recommends 30 minutes per day and alternating the exercises by working some muscles some days and some muscles other days. Of course, professional advice is important if you have not been exercising.

            For those who do not want to exercise with weights, her suggestion is doing the simple exercise of “sit-to-stand.” Stand from a seating position without holding on to chair arms and sit down. Repeat. This move can be modified by holding your arms out straight. It doesn’t require any equipment or a partner or even good weather outside.

            Of course, walking is still highly recommended and popular. The Washington Post cited a study done of 650,00 adults and found that walking just 15 minutes a day was associated with living two year longer. Those who had a normal weight and walked 30 minutes a day, five days a week, increased their life span by seven years! I see a lot of people in Chestertown who are taking these findings seriously and walking regularly. You are an example for us!

           Blackburn also emphasized that we need to pay attention to our posture as we walk. “Ears over shoulders!”

            On the subject of joint replacement, she noted that those with some debilitation should not wait too long before considering joint replacement. Rehabilitation will take longer and be tougher for those delaying surgery.

Why Exercise?

Jack Matthews

            At mid-way through my 90th year I exercise because I always feel better when I finish and I enjoy the challenge. I also have to do some type of movements during the day to keep the arthritis loose.

            Osteoarthritis caused me to give up driving two years ago so attending a gym is impractical. This means I do everything at home, mostly on a closed-in porch. My balance and walking are the most serious problems so there are two excellent pieces of equipment, plus hand weights and elastic bands, to work with.

            The first equipment I work on is a rebounder- mini trampoline – according to many fitness experts, may be the single most effective piece of exercise equipment. (Google: ‘benefits of rebounding’ for an extensive list.) For me, it is especially good for loosening the arthritis before any other exercise, but it can even help anyone who cannot walk, by sitting on the edge of the tramp while someone else bounces it.

             Other equipment is a NuStep, purchased because it was the safest machine for my wife with early stages of Alzheimer’s. Combining both machines, weights, elastic bands or intervals, I spend 20 to 40 minutes a day exercising, depending upon where I am in the routines.

            If the weather allows, I often finish the schedule on an adult tricycle, riding on streets in our community. The handle bars are set so that I am pulling up with my arms and pedaling, for a good workout. Cycling motion is much more compatible with arthritis than walking: however, I was not comfortable on a 2-wheeler. Walking is a real bummer, consequently I use a rollator to assist with balance and mobility in the house and outside.

            There are a number of fitness gurus exploiting their programs on the internet, providing helpful information to develop a home program, if attending a gym is not feasible. Many have videos and books for sale. The quantity of exercise information when exploring the internet can blow your mind, so one has to use common sense or seek advice from someone in which you have confidence.

            From every fitness source I have read, some type of physical exercise is recommended to maintain good health for both sexes and every age. I am convinced that my passion for exercise has contributed to my current ability to move and breathe.

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