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Independence: A Vital Goal For Older Adults


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Whether it is a 50-year-old woman looking forward to retirement, 65-year-old man that wants to reduce the medication he is taking or a 72-year-old woman that wants to go hiking at the Rocky Mountains with her grandkids – they all want independence. Some may have higher levels of independence than others but they intersect at the same idea.

That idea is to do what they want to do when they want to do it.

The key ability is to live longer and live with better quality of life. This opportunity to stay independent for years does not come by being sedentary. This freedom does not come from being complacent. Attaining and maintaining independence comes from a constant vigilance for a better quality of life – and acting on it.

An important part of how to give yourself the opportunity at longer lasting independence is improving the way you move. This improvement is not done by being part of a gentle program that treats you and your body as though as you are frail, without potential and should not be challenged. Instead, you deserve a program that is introduced in a way that meets you where you are now…and challenges you so you can strengthen that foundation of independence.

Use that person or group class that you attend as your supplement (think of vitamins). That program is a part of what you are doing to improve your quality of life. Thus, this program is not the only thing you are doing – but an important part.

In other words, in addition to that program/fitness professional that works with you individually or the group:

  • Keep on playing.
  • Keep on hiking.
  • Keep on enjoying your dance class.
  • Keep on getting outside, getting your hands dirty and gardening.
  • Keep on planning exciting trips near and far…and physically prepare for them.
  • Keep on golfing.
  • Keep on being attentive to your health in other ways. (ie: eyesight and hearing checks, understanding medication side effects, managing chronic diseases)
  • Keep on learning and being creative.
  • Keep on going for walks with your partner, friends or neighbors.

You deserve a program that fits your needs, dreams and desires. Be vigilant about maintaining your independence and quality of life!

 

 

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Squashing The Myths About Exercise for Older Adults-Part 3


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Despite our cultural depictions of aging, we all have the ability to age well with the strength, agility and balance to maintain our quality of life and the activities we enjoy. Traditional exercise programs, and even many fitness professionals, often disregard the ability of mature adults and seniors to maintain and gain qualities like strength and agility.
Regardless of age, we should all make the time to move, exercise, or play. Let’s squash one of the myths that hold mature adults and seniors back from moving better:

#3 Okay…exercise, but just take it easy…
To counter this myth, Fred Devito summed it up with his quote “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
Progress in fitness will only occur over time when you are challenged. Sure, it is important to start off light when you begin a new fitness program, but soon your body will become used to the exercise and a plateau will happen. Progressions should be incorporated that continue to challenge you to move forward. My clients trust that I will push them just enough so they continue to see the results of their hard work, but not to a point of injury or exhaustion. The key to maintaining the right balance of challenge versus safe progression does not require a steep incline, instead the magic word is variability.
For example, if you enjoy walking on the treadmill, instead of going at the same pace for an hour – do intervals. Try 5 minutes at a comfortable pace then 2 minutes at a challenging pace. Keep coming back to the comfortable pace to recover, then ramp up again to stay challenged. Another simple variation to stay challenged is to vary your foot pattern if you enjoy working with dumbbells. Instead of standing neutral (i.e. feet hip-width distance apart) try a staggered stance as thought you’re midway through a walking step with one foot ahead of the other. Not only are you doing your curls but also you are testing your balance and core strength.

We move throughout life engaging multiple body parts simultaneously – so why isolate just one when we are exercising? Train for life!
Don’t let these myths hold you back from living with the quality of life you want! There’s no such thing as too old to exercise. Especially as we age, exercise may become but more about what you can DO rather than just how you look. A healthy fitness program means being able to play with the kids/grandkids, enjoy a good golf game, take that trip of a lifetime, or maybe just get around easily.
It is never too late to train to move better in your everyday life!