National Senior Health & Fitness Day is a nationwide event held the last Wednesday in May during Older Americans Month. Locally, Lawrence Memorial Hospital is teaming up with the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department, the Lawrence Public Library and Douglas County Senior Services to offer “Fitness Crawl,” a full day of health and fitness activities and events on May 27.
Fitness Crawl Events
Sports Pavilion of Lawrence, 100 Rock Chalk Lane
7-8:30 a.m. One-Mile Walk Test
8-8:30 a.m. Functional Fitness Class
8:30-9 a.m. Personal Training Demonstration
9-9:45 a.m. Arthritis Foundation Exercise Class
Douglas County Senior Services, 745 Vermont St.
10:30-11:30 a.m. Yoga for Every Body
Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.
Noon-1 p.m. Brown Bag Lunch - bring your lunch, beverage supplied. Hear personal stories of “How Exercise Transformed Me.”
1:30-3:30 p.m. Balance assessment activities, plus free blood pressure and fingerstick (total only) cholesterol screening (no fasting required)
2:30-3 p.m. Tai Chi for Balance class
4 p.m. Walk with a Doc. Meet Dr. Caleb Trent of Lawrence Emergency Medicine Associates in the lobby of the Library, for a walk outdoors (weather permitting) and a chat about general health and wellness topics.
Holcom Recreation Center, 2700 W. 27th St.
5:30-6:25 p.m. Zumba Gold class
The goal of this annual event is to promote the importance of regular physical activity and to showcase what local organizations are doing to improve the health and fitness of older adults in their communities. Across the country, more than 100,000 older adults are expected to participate in events at more than 1,000 locations.
The Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov) notes that older adults can benefit from regular physical activity. Most importantly, physical activity does not have to be strenuous to achieve significant health benefits.
Unfortunately, inactivity increases with age. By the age of 75, one in three men and one in two women by age 75 year are no longer exercising. The loss of strength and stamina often attributed to the aging process is in part due to lack of physical activity.
Vic White, exercise physiologist with LMH Therapy Services Fit for Life program, notes “Being active and working towards maintaining good functional movement through exercise offers a greater chance of long-term independence for seniors as they age.”
Some of the many benefits of physical activity include:
- Reduced risk of falling and fracturing bones
- Reduced risk of death from coronary heart disease and of developing hypertension, colon cancer and diabetes
- Improved strength and stamina
- Reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Improvement in joint swelling and pain from arthritis
Healthy older adults should aim for:
- A minimum of 150 minutes a week of cardiovascular activity such as walking
- At least two sessions of exercises that target all major muscle groups in order to build strength
- Plus exercises several times a week to maintain flexibility and joint function, as well as balance
Know that it is never too late to begin exercising. If it has been awhile since you have been active and/or you have any chronic diseases, check with your health care provider first. Know that even those with limited mobility can participate in chair or modified exercises. For more information on exercises appropriate for older adults of all capabilities, go to go4life.nia.nih. gov.
The Fitness Crawl will take place at several locations throughout Lawrence on Wednesday, May 27. No advance registration is needed and participants can try out one or two activities or join in for several. There is no charge to participate and participants can enter at each site for fitness-related prizes including a Fitbit. Please wear comfortable clothes and shoes and bring water to drink.
For more information about the Fitness Crawl, go to lawrenceks.org/lprd and click Programs and Events, then Lifelong Recreation, and then Lifelong Recreation Summer newsletter or call Gayle Sigurdson at (785) 832-7920. Or go to lmh.org, click Wellness Resources, then Classes and Events and search for Fitness Crawl or contact Aynsley Anderson at 505-3066.
For information about LMH Therapy Services Fit for Life program, an exercise program that allows older adults or those who need special assistance to exercise in a safe, supervised and non-threatening environment, call (785) 505-2712 or go to lmh.org and search Fit for Life under Classes and Events.
Aynsley Anderson, MA, RN, is Community Education Coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which is a major sponsor of WellCommons. She can be reached at email@example.com.