Tips to Get Moving for National Senior Health and Fitness Day!

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Whether you’re already physically active or looking to get started, today is a great day to get moving! It’s the 25th anniversary of Senior Health & Fitness Day, the nation’s largest annual health promotion event for older adults. More than 1,000 local organizations in all 50 states are hosting activities such as fitness walks, low-impact exercises, health screenings, health information workshops, and more.

While exercise has benefits for the whole body, it is especially important for your brain as you age. Experts from the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), a collaborative of scientists, health professionals, scholars, and policy experts who focus on brain heath and aging, agreed in a report that people who exercise “show beneficial changes in brain structure and function” and “have lower risk of cognitive decline.” Physical activity can make positive changes in our brains that will keep us sharp into old age.

The experts at GCBH also outlined the following guidelines for anyone looking to improve their level of physical activity and keep it enjoyable:

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May 25th is National Senior Health and Fitness Day!

Senior Health & Fitness

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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.

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National Senior Health and Fitness Day

Today is the 18th annual National Senior Health and Fitness Day in the U.S. (May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month and Older Americans Month, and the last Wednesday of the month is reserved each year for Senior Health and Fitness Day). In celebration, an estimated 100,000 older adults will participate in fitness activities around the country. Local organizations—recreation departments, hospitals, health clubs, libraries, houses of worship—have put together programs for their communities commemorating this year’s theme: “Make Fitness a Goal for Life!”

The vascular and brain health benefits of exercise are well documented—it would be hard to argue against exercise as an essential component of a healthy lifestyle, and of aging well. Regular physical activity may help reduce the risk of developing age-related diseases and disabilities and, in some cases, may be part of an effective treatment plan for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Being more active may also help you continue to do the things you enjoy for longer.

Maybe you are an older adult who acknowledges the need to get moving, to help prevent disease and stay sharp. Perhaps you’re the caregiver for that older adult. Or, maybe you have been better about regular exercise at various points in your life, and would like to get back into the habit. How about celebrating Physical Fitness and Sports Month and Senior Health and Fitness Day by making (or renewing) your commitment to regular physical activity?

Though designed for older adults, the Go4Life campaign from the National Institute on Aging is a resource for those new to exercise at any age. At the center of the campaign are the book “Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide” and its accompanying DVD, both available in English and Spanish. With tips for getting (and staying) active and eating well, sample exercises, tools for assessment and maintenance, and a wealth of related resources, these free tools are valuable for those who want to start incorporating daily activity into their lives. If you’re a support group leader, physical therapist, senior center director, or fitness instructor working with older adults and exercise, the campaign offers special resources to help you engage your group. 

If you are already active, but want more motivation to keep at it, consider joining a campaign like the Mature Fitness Awards Program for older adults. Not yet an “older adult”? Maybe you’re like me: young enough to enjoy a regular Zumba class…but old enough to remember “Get in Shape, Girl!” and jazzercise? Or maybe you’re a parent who would like to see your children develop an appreciation for physical fitness? Look into the all-ages President’s Challenge.

No matter the individual’s age, the expert advice to the currently less-than-active is the same:  make it a priority, make it fun, and start TODAY.

Additional resources on exercise for older adults:

And for all:

–Sarah King

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