Today seniors around the country are getting active to celebrate the 23rd National Senior Health and Fitness Day. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve brain health at every stage of life, but is especially important for seniors as a way to reduce the risk for common age-related health problems such as stroke, heart attack, depression, high blood sugar, Alzheimer’s disease, and cognitive aging.
A part of Older Americans Month and National Fitness and Sports Month, Senior Health and Fitness Day is a celebration of older Americans’ commitment to an active lifestyle. This year’s theme is “Improve Your Health for a Better Self,” and over 100,000 seniors at more than 1,000 locations across the country will participate in events ranging from health fairs to flash mobs.
The Dana Foundation has many resources on the benefits of exercise and other brain healthy habits, including the “Successful Aging and the Brain” informational booklet. Make sure to also check out our new YouTube clips, featuring neuroscience experts at our most recent Successful Aging & Your Brain program. Panelist Wendy A. Suzuki, Ph.D., Dana Alliance member, professor at New York University, and an expert on exercise, describes historical studies as well as her own findings on exercise’s effect on the brain. Matthew E. Fink, M.D., a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, discusses how to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, noting, “the single most important thing you can do for your overall health as you get older is to increase your physical exercise.”
It’s not too late to get involved in this year’s celebration! Go4Life, an exercise campaign from the National Institute on Aging, has many helpful resources, including suggested exercises for endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. But remember, you don’t need a complicated exercise routine or fancy equipment to get started. A walk around the neighborhood, a bike ride, or a little gardening is enough to get your heart rate up. Your brain will thank you!
– Ali Chunovic