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Staying active as an older adult

By The Health News Team | May 29, 2024
Woman at home doing yoga

Getting older doesn't have to mean slowing down. According to Daphne Miller, an exercise specialist at the Sharp Community Resource Center, keeping active is key to thriving in your golden years.

As we age, staying active becomes more important than ever,” Miller says. “Physical activity not only benefits our bodies but also our minds and social well-being.”

Focusing on simple, accessible ways to stay active, Miller offers valuable tips for older adults on maintaining their health and vitality.

Incorporate daily walks

One of the simplest and most effective ways for seniors to keep moving is through walking. Walking is a low-impact activity that can significantly benefit cardiovascular health, muscle strength and joint mobility.

“Walking can be as simple as a stroll around your neighborhood or a structured walk in a local park,” Miller says. “It's an activity that can be adapted to fit your individual fitness level.”

For adults 65 and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking, in addition to activities to strengthen muscles and improve balance.

Miller and her team at the Sharp Community Resource Center lead a free, weekly fitness class at the Grossmont Center called Sharp Grossmont Mall Walkers. Participants are led through easy strength exercises and then walk around the outdoor mall.

“It’s a fun and informal way to get some exercise, meet new people and learn easy exercises from our trained staff to help you maintain your strength and balance,” Miller says.

Add variety to your routine

For those looking for variety, Miller also recommends incorporating activities like yoga and tai chi, which help with physical fitness and enhance flexibility and mental calmness. "These activities are perfect for seniors because they can be modified to suit your comfort level and are excellent for improving balance and reducing the risk of falls," she says.

Strength training is another essential component of an active lifestyle for seniors. Even simple, light resistance exercises can help maintain muscle mass, which naturally diminishes with age. Equipment isn't necessarily required; bodyweight exercises like squats, wall push-ups and chair dips can be effective.

"Starting with just a few minutes a day can lead to significant improvements in your overall strength and stamina," Miller says.

Participate in group activities

In addition to physical activities, Miller stresses the importance of social interactions in maintaining mental health. Participating in group exercises, like the Mall Walkers program, attending social events, and even volunteering can provide a sense of community and purpose while improving mood and keeping the brain active.

Lastly, Miller stresses the importance of speaking with your doctor before kicking off any new exercise plan, especially for those with preexisting health conditions. She encourages older adults to listen to their bodies and adjust the intensity of their activities as needed.

"The goal is to be active and have fun," Miller says. Find activities that you enjoy and make them part of your daily routine.”

Visit the Grossmont Mall Walkers program page to learn more or to register for an upcoming session online, or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277) to register over the phone.

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