September is Healthy Aging Month which is an annual observance designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older. In addition, International Active Aging Week is recognized the last week of September and culminates as we head into October when the International Day of Older Persons is recognized on October 1st. The goal of the latter is to encourage active aging among older adults.
The concept of active aging can be summed up in the phrase "engaged in life." Active
aging describes individuals who live life as fully as possible with balance between the
six dimensions of wellness; physical, intellectual, emotional, social, environmental
and spiritual. According to Fahey, Insel & Roth (2008), physically active persons reap
a wealth of benefits that often spill over into additional healthy habits related to
their everyday life! Specific to older adults, they suggest sedentary individuals who
begin an exercise program notice positive health-related benefits rapidly. Active
aging is the key to quality of life and independence into our older years.
Examining the dimension of physical wellness, the following components should be in
place for best results:
1.Cardiovascular strength & endurance: These efforts will serve to raise the
participant's rate of breathing and his or her heart rate, and they are likely to be
different for different people. The activity that accomplishes the task for one person
is not necessarily what will be effective for the next.
TIP: Pick an activity or two that you truly enjoy, and do it at a pace that you feel
your heart rate and rate of breathing come comfortably above the norm. Pencil in time
each day to be active, and invite a friend! Help one another get started and stay on
2.Muscular strength & endurance: Simple efforts may include some sink squats,
some wall push-ups and then lying down for a few hip lifts and a few crunches.
Weights, machines or resistance bands are some other options. Again, efforts will vary
from one person to another depending on his or her goals.
TIP: Efforts to develop strength are most effective if they are done 2-3 times a week
with a rest day after an activity day. This rest day gives muscles a chance to rebuild
and become stronger. Hiring a personal trainer is a great way to get it done right the
first time. A couple sessions a month will serve to steer you clear of the dreaded
3.Flexibility: Efforts to be more flexible should take place every day, and
should involve major joints and muscles. Static stretches are held for 20-30 seconds,
while dynamic stretches are done in a smooth and fluid fashion.
TIP: Get a good comprehensive book or DVD related to strength and flexibility! Along
with some cardio, you'll be set! Try a few different things and find something that
seems to speak your lingo.
4.Nutrition & Body Composition: Conscious efforts to consume healthful foods our
bodies can utilize for function, thereby reaching and/or maintaining a healthy weight,
should be daily. This includes limited consumption of fats and processed carbohydrates.
TIP: Fresh vegetables and fruits, foods high in alkaline, help with weight control,
detoxify the body, boost the immune system, fight against the growth of cancer cells
and much more. Color on your plate equals high levels of vitamins and minerals.
After 6 months of research, an Australian team recently revealed facts suggesting exercise leads to improved cognitive function in older adults (JAMA, 2008). They found the memory of those who participated in the research to have improved during the 6 months of the study, as well as in the 6-12 months afterwards. Unlike medication, which was found to have no significant effect on mild cognitive impairment, the team also points out the fact that physical activity has the advantage of other health benefits such as preventing depression, improving quality of life, reducing falls,
enhancing heart and lung function and lowering incidence of disability.
Disability has been shown to be a direct result of disease and/or disuse. Avoid being "dis-ed" by being physically active! Have questions, call the FitXpress toll-free at 1-800-481-7449.