Lace-up the sneakers and grab your water bottle because May 26th is National Senior Health and Fitness Day! Every year on the last Wednesday in May, more than 100,000 senior adults across the country unite with one common goal: raising awareness about senior citizen health and keeping senior citizens fit.
The Benefits of Physical Activity
We can all benefit from a little more exercise, but older generations especially have a lot to gain by staying active. Activities like yoga, walking, and swimming are all relatively low-impact routines that can improve quality of life. Some benefits include:
- Reduced anxiety
- Maintaining muscle mass and joint health
- Reduced joint swelling and pain due to arthritis
- Reduced risk of diabetes and colon cancer
- A sense of community and companionship when done in groups
With special health events often put on by banks, houses of worship, hospitals, parks and recreation departments, and other community organizations, you can participate on this day with others–safely masked and adhering to social distancing guidelines–or you can join in the fun in the comfort of your own home. In our goal to continue to be your “Best Neighbors Ever,” we’ve put together a list of activities and tips for seniors to maintain their health.
Schedule a Screening
Being proactive about your healthcare is one of the best ways to stay active and prevent any serious issues. A regular screening gives you the opportunity to ask about any new symptoms you might be having, any changes in your lifestyle that you think could affect your health, and make an active health plan for the future.
It’s all too easy to stay cooped up in the house, especially nowadays, but spending time outside has some profound health benefits. For one, it’s almost guaranteed to make you more active. Time outside should mean less time in front of the television or the computer (or smartphone). Going to the park or going for a walk keeps your body in motion! The great outdoors also tends to elevate moods. Overall, people who spend more time outside are proven to be more relaxed and happier.
Another great advantage of being outside? Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is a surprisingly common problem. Globally, around 50% of people are Vitamin D deficient, and that number is expected to rise due to lockdown. The right amount of Vitamin D can help keep your bones strong, boost mental health, aid in immunity, support a healthy heart, and regulate blood sugars. Remember, though, if you plan on stepping outside, do so safely. Check out our blog on skin and sun safety here.
Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity to offer health and wellbeing not only to yourself but to those less fortunate. Consider volunteering at a health fair, a food pantry, or a clothing drive. Volunteering is known to build community, increase confidence, and even combat depression, all of which help make a happier, healthier you!
A great way to get exercise, dancing will have you smiling in no time. Take a class at your community center if you can, turn up the music, and cut a rug in your living room. Dancing can improve your muscle tone and strength, makes for stronger bones, therefore, lowering the risk of osteoporosis, improves the condition of your heart and lungs, and aids in agility and coordination. Dance alone or grab a partner and let the music move you.
It’s not just about what you eat, but also what you don’t eat. Limiting your intake of bad fatty foods (pastries, cakes, cookies, etc…) or sugary foods is also crucial in maintaining a healthy diet. These foods can cause inflammation in the body and can lower your immune system. Consider limiting alcohol consumption as well. If you’re unsure of how much is too much, talk to your doctor.
Get Your Beauty Sleep
On top of sleep reducing stress, which is vital for health, sleep allows the body to repair itself. The proper amount of sleep can strengthen your immune system, thereby making it easier for your body to fight off infection. Sleep also helps to improve concentration and memory. Adults should try to get at least seven and a half to nine hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping, it might be solved by simply reducing caffeine intake, but it could also be symptomatic of a more significant problem. Often conditions like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome develop as we age, so talk to your doctor to rule out more serious issues.
Healthy Habits Lead to Healthy Lives
You can’t prevent all illnesses, but taking control of your health and being active can give you a leg up as you age. Healthy habits, like the ones listed here, lead to stronger bones, stronger muscles, healthier hearts, and stronger immune systems the whole year through. So whether it’s participating in community activities, staying active with friends, or exercising at home, get up and get moving.
Don’t forget to always keep safety top of mind. Follow gym protocols, take breaks when you need to, and use all the safety equipment available to you. Of course, should something unexpected happen, Neighbors Emergency Center is just a short drive away.