How to Get Started in a Senior Fitness Program

  • By Western Home Communities
  • 30 Oct, 2017
Starting a senior exercise program

The Importance of Staying Active as You Age

As we age, our bodies begin to go through physical changes. We lose flexibility and range of motion, or develop pain associated with certain chronic conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis. In fact, by the time adults enter into their forties, they begin to losing around three-to-five percent of their muscle mass with each subsequent decade of life.

Although most aging adults are aware of the risks associated with living a sedentary lifestyle, many stray away from taking part in a routine fitness program out of fear they will not be able to safely complete the exercises. A recent study revealed that approximately 67 percent of people aged 65 or older are inactive for over eight hours each day. Staying active as you age is vital to physical health, but also is an important part of maintaining independence and social well-being.

Finding the Right Senior Exercise Program for You

Senior exercises  don’t have to be high intensity or difficult. In fact, there are a variety of senior fitness programs designed with the aging adult in mind. A few tips to keep in mind when finding your way to a more active and independent lifestyle include:

  • Find a program that interests you. Whether you seek the mobility and freedom of a walking club, the relaxation of tai chi, or the simplicity of chair yoga, there is sure to be a program that meets your needs. Finding the program has never been easier with AARP and the International Council on Active Aging teaming up to provide their Age-Friendly Facilities and Services  locator. Select your state and city, then explore a list of gyms, fitness centers and programs designed specifically for seniors and aging adults.
  • Consult your doctor. Before beginning any senior fitness program, it is important to consult your physician for a check-up. Tell the physician your plans to begin an exercise program and discuss any possible conditions that may affect your participation, such as heart or joint conditions or certain medications.
  • Set your fitness goal. Once you have chosen an activity and consulted your physician, set a fitness goal to ensure you maintain your daily routine. Having a clearly defined senior fitness program can help keep you motivated and feel more accomplished. For example, don’t just say you want to lose weight. Instead, specify exactly how many pounds you’d like to lose, and reward yourself in a small way when you hit that goal.
  • Take your time. You may get excited to start exercising and dive into a new program full force. Just remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Be sure to pace yourself and only do what your body is comfortable doing. Knowing your limits can prevent injury leading to further inactivity.

Stay Active with Western Home Communities

Enjoy active living  at Western Home Communities, where we offer a variety of senior fitness programs to make sure you keep living independently for as long as possible. It is our mission to create fulfilling lifestyles every day. The Wellness and Community Center comes complete with a lap pool and all the essentials to help you create a senior exercise program that meets your unique needs. Contact us today for more information on our senior fitness programs, (319) 277-2141.

The Western Home Communities Blog

By Western Home Communities 06 Dec, 2017

Throughout our lives, we often have moments of forgetfulness where we can’t remember the location we parked the car at the grocery store, misplace our keys, or forget a new acquaintance’s name. And, as you get older, you might start to experience these memory lapses somewhat more often.

Forgetfulness can naturally be a part of the aging process. However, some seniors may start to become concerned that something more serious is going on with their brains, especially knowing that Alzheimer’s disease is most prevalent in adults over the age of 65. This is why it’s important to understand the difference between age-related memory loss and some of the common warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Arming yourself with the facts allows you to make an educated decision about when it might be time to seek your doctor’s advice.

By Western Home Communities 30 Oct, 2017

As we age, our bodies begin to go through physical changes. We lose flexibility and range of motion, or develop pain associated with certain chronic conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis. In fact, by the time adults enter into their forties, they begin to losing around three-to-five percent of their muscle mass with each subsequent decade of life.

Although most aging adults are aware of the risks associated with living a sedentary lifestyle, many stray away from taking part in a routine fitness program out of fear they will not be able to safely complete the exercises. A recent study revealed that approximately 67 percent of people aged 65 or older are inactive for over eight hours each day. Staying active as you age is vital to physical health, but also is an important part of maintaining independence and social well-being.

By Western Home Communities 23 Oct, 2017

Historically, seniors have used technology less often than their younger counterparts. However, recent research from the Pew Research Center  reports that those age 65 and older are beginning to catch up. Four years ago, only 18 percent of seniors had smartphones. Today that number has risen to 42 percent. Likewise, internet usage and home broadband adoption has increased among this age group by 55 percent since 2013.

Older adults are also the fastest-growing segment of the online population. They’re utilizing the internet in many of the same ways as their children and grandchildren, too, like for staying connected to others, getting their daily news, finding quick answers to health-related questions and more.

By Western Home Communities 16 Oct, 2017

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important at any stage in life. Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly can provide a variety of health benefits to both children and adults. However, as we age, our metabolisms slow down and we become less active. Seniors who do not maintain an active lifestyle require fewer calories and develop smaller appetites, making it difficult to consume the necessary number of daily calories needed for proper nutrition.

According to the National Institutes of Health , proper nutrition can reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, bone loss and even some types of cancer. Aging adults who eat a nutritious diet can also lower their risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

By Western Home Communities 09 Oct, 2017

Seniors fall for a variety of reasons. The normal aging process brings physical changes to your body, and you may experience a decrease in your overall strength and mobility. Or, changes in your vision may affect how well you’re able to see objects blocking your path. Medication side effects like dizziness or weakness are often to blame for senior falls, too.

Regardless of the reason for the fall, knowing how to prevent one from occurring can be key to your overall quality of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC), falls are the number one cause of injuries in those age 65 and older. In fact, every year more than 2.5 million older individuals are treated in emergency rooms for an injury due to a fall. And, after you’ve fallen once, your chances of falling again actually double.

By Western Home Communities 02 Oct, 2017

Occupational therapy is a treatment that emerged in the United States in 1917 with the goal of helping people improve life skills and maintain their independence. Using a holistic approach, occupational therapists create programs that focus on adapting one’s environment to match that individual’s lifestyle. This process is completed by incorporating a variety of focused exercises and meaningful activities that promote participation in everyday life.

For seniors, occupational therapy assists in combatting the physical limitations that can present themselves over time. In fact, over one-third of occupational therapists work with seniors that have been affected by illness, injury or a mental health condition. By focusing on what the person can do and not on their restrictions, occupational therapists help seniors with the activities of daily life, including cooking, dressing, bathing and eating.

As an advocate for the senior population, occupational therapists can also play a key role in the memory loss some aging adults may face. Therapists use a step-by-step approach to assess a person’s cognitive abilities and use behavioral adjustments to assist with any changes in personality. First, the therapist will evaluate the individual’s physical and cognitive abilities. Then, the individual is tested with a series of constructed tasks and a personalized plan is created to meet his or her unique needs. If cognitive abilities continue to decline over time, the plan is adjusted to provide more sensory stimulation and educate the family caregivers on next steps.

By Western Home Communities 16 Aug, 2017

The older you get, the more difficult it can become to stay physically active. In fact, as you entered your forties, you began to lose three-to-five percent of your muscle mass with each subsequent decade of life. Chronic conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis can make certain movements painful, limiting your flexibility and your range of motion. Maybe you simply don’t know what types of exercises are best or safest for your individual needs, or you’re wary of joining the fancy new gym down the street.

However, while exercise is important for those of all ages, active seniors enjoy a variety of additional benefits to their overall health. For instance, senior fitness helps with healthy aging in the following ways:

Managing chronic conditions. The more you move, the better you feel! Exercise is crucial for managing and reducing pain from conditions like arthritis, as regular movement helps lubricate the joints and decrease stiffness. Exercise has also been shown to reduce the risk for heart disease, cognitive impairment, diabetes and stroke.

Boosting mental health, memory and cognition.
Exercise is a known mood-booster, and it may be one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your memory performance, too. Exercise increases heart rate, which helps pump more oxygen to the brain. It also releases a variety of hormones in the brain that promote new cell growth.

Decreasing the need for some medications.
A combination of aerobic activity, strength training and flexibility exercises can reduce the need for the variety of medications you may take daily to manage your physical and mental conditions. For instance, exercise can help reduce systolic blood pressure and decrease your need for blood pressure medication.

Preventing falls.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in seniors; in fact, one out of three adults age 65 or older suffer a debilitating fall each year. Adding balance exercises can help keep you steady on your feet and lead to a higher level of independence.

Improving sleep habits.
Seniors who suffer from insomnia find that exercise helps exhaust them enough to enjoy restful sleep throughout the night. It makes sense – after all, if you are more active throughout the day, you will be more tired in the evening. Just make sure to avoid strenuous activity two hours before bedtime.

By Western Home Communities 14 Aug, 2017

Every brain changes with age and many seniors fear the unknown that can come from cognitive decline over time. We begin to experience lapses in memory, or “senior moments” as they are commonly referred. Not remembering why you entered a room, misplacing your keys, or forgetting a plan you made with a friend are examples of the normal memory loss many older adults may encounter in their later years.

There are a variety of reasons adults experience these memory problems, including a decline in memory and cognitive skills as a result of decreased blood flow to the brain. Additionally, the aging hippocampus deteriorates, and this affects our ability to form and retrieve memories. Hormones protecting and repairing the also brain decrease with age. These fleeting memory problems leading to the “senior moments” we experience reflect normal changes in the brain over time.

By Western Home Communities 01 Aug, 2017

In late 2015, senior advocacy group LeadingAge  announced a new name for a continuing care retirement community (CCRC): life plan community. Why the change? After two years of research, it was concluded that today’s seniors prefer a different term that better describes their plans for the future – to continue living life to the fullest extent, with a true way to age in place in a community they call home.

A life plan community is a far cry from the medical facilities of the past that were more nursing home-like than a true neighborhood. These communities offer innovative, independent senior housing options like active living  in a free-standing home, townhome or apartment and ongoing care in an assisted living  or memory care  neighborhood. Residents in life plan communities not only have peace of mind for their future needs, but it’s also reported that many of these seniors enjoy healthy, vibrant lifestyles longer than those who live alone in their homes.

By Western Home Communities 24 Jul, 2017

For seniors who are ready to fully enjoy their retirement and simplify their lives, downsizing from a large home to a senior living community can provide the carefree lifestyle they crave. While moving from a long-time home can bring up sentimental and nostalgic feelings, many of today’s older adults look forward to eliminating some of the hassles that come along with home ownership.

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