Memorial Regional Health: In health and fitness, the work is never complete
- Stretch daily: Even 5 to 10 minutes of stretching helps maintain flexibility.
- Perform weight-bearing resistance training three to four times per week: Use hand weights or perform resistance exercises at home, or join an exercise class.
- Engage in cardiovascular exercise three to four times per week: A brisk walk is one of the best cardiovascular exercises, and it’s easy to do.
Proper fitness is a common theme in health care throughout life, but it becomes increasingly important as people age.
People often think of fitness in terms of physical health, but for seniors, it’s only part of the equation, according to Jackie Camp, activities coordinator at the Senior Social Center of Craig.
“For total health and fitness, seniors also require socialization, mental challenges and proper nutrition,” she said.
National Senior Health and Fitness Day is May 30. This nationwide event is held the last Wednesday in May, which is Older American Month, to promote the importance of regular physical activity and improve overall health and fitness of older adults.
Barriers to fitness
Older adults face challenges when it comes to maintaining their overall health and fitness as they age. Camp said these challenges include a lack of physical mobility, financial instability, lack of transportation and lack of family support. All these can contribute to isolation.
“Isolation is the adversary of aging and, more often than one would hope, very hard to overcome,” she said.
The National Council on Aging reports that regular physical exercise can help older adults stay independent and prevent many health problems that come with age. But after about the age of 45, people become more selective about where they want to work out, according to the American Association of Retired Persons.
To help Craig’s older residents achieve their fitness goals, the Senior Social Center offers many programs that help seniors overcome some of the challenges mentioned above that might otherwise prevent them from getting enough exercise, socialization and mental stimulation.
“The Senior Social Center is supported by Memorial Regional Health and partners with CNCC, Sunset Meadows, Northwest Colorado Health, The city of Craig and The Boys & Girls Club to provide a variety of classes and opportunities to help seniors in Craig and the surrounding areas achieve some of their goals in fitness, education, nutrition and socialization,” Camp said.
It’s never too late to start
Older adults living more sedentary lives can always make small changes to incorporate more fitness into their daily routines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion reports the loss of strength and stamina attributed to aging is, in part, caused by reduced physical activity.
The CDC recommends short intervals of moderate physical activity — only five to 10 minutes — as a good start. Of course, older adults should always consult a doctor before beginning a new physical activity program.
Ideally, older adults can incorporate longer sessions of moderate physical activity into their lives, such as long walks. Shorter, more vigorous activities, such as fast walking or climbing stairs, are options, according to the CDC.
Strength-building exercises are important for older adults to prevent loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis and frailty, which can also help prevent falls and other risks as people age.
At the Senior Social Center of Craig, physical fitness and dance classes are available for all ability levels.
“For those who are very physically active, we offer pickleball and circuit training. In the summer, we offer water aerobics at the City Pool; in the winter, we offer transportation to the Meeker Recreational Center — both of these are offered in partnership with the city of Craig,” Camp said.
On the socialization side, which is important for combating isolation and promoting mental stimulation, the Senior Social Center offers coffee and conversation, as well as board, card and outdoor games. There’s also a Senior Outreach Service that offers visits, phone calls, cards and flowers to those who are housebound. And, the Bookworms Book Club offers good reading, lively discussion, friendship and food, Camp said.
This week hundreds of teachers from across the United States and Canada are spending five days in Denver to shore up the concepts and importance of Advanced Placement classes in high school. Moffat County High School has been offering these College Board classes for the past five years, which students can begin taking in their freshman year.