“I’m too old to exercise.”
“I might fall.”
“I have never exercised before so there is no reason to start now.”
“Exercise classes and gyms cost too much.”
These are all excuses given by older adults about why they cannot exercise.
But the fact is, the older we get, the more we should participate in increased physical activity and targeted exercises. Even those with health issues can significantly improve their health status by exercising regularly.
The terms physical activity and exercise are often used interchangeably. The National Institutes of Health notes that physical activity is usually something that gets us moving such as gardening, walking the dog and or taking the stairs.
Exercise is a more structured and repetitive form of physical activity like weight training or a yoga class. Including both activity and exercise can help you feel better and stay fit and active as you age.
Aynsley Anderson, MA, RN, Mayo Certified Wellness Coach
Fitness Crawl schedule of events on Wednesday, May 25
Sports Pavilion Lawrence, 100 Rock Chalk Lane:
7-8:30 a.m. One-Mile Walk Test
8-8:30 a.m. Personal Training Demonstration
8:30-9 a.m. Silver N’ Fit Class
9-9:45 a.m. Arthritis Foundation Exercise Class
Douglas County Senior Services, 745 Vermont St.:10:30-11:30 a.m. Tai Chi for Balance Class
Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.:
Noon-1 p.m. Brown Bag Lunch — bring your lunch, beverage supplied. Hear motivational speaker Mea Austin, discuss “The Happiness Advantage.”
1-3:30 p.m. Balance challenge course, strength training class, free blood pressure, grip strength and nutrition screenings
4-4:30 p.m. Wellness Walk in downtown Lawrence area. Departs from Library lobby.
Arete Community Fitness, 1004 Locust St., Eudora: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Vibe Class and chair massages
The National Institute on Aging notes that exercise can positively impact those with hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis and other joint problems, peripheral artery disease, balance problems, dementias, depression, stress and anxiety, and numerous other physical and mental health disorders.
A good exercise program will incorporate aerobic activity such as walking or swimming; strength training exercise, sometimes with small weights or resistance bands; stretching and flexibility exercises such as yoga; and exercises to maintain and improve balance like Tai Chi.
LMH Therapy Services offers fours levels of Tai Chi for Balance classes. They are taught by Arthritis Foundation-certified instructors who are also registered physical therapists. A new series begins the week of June 6.
Inactivity increases with age. By age 75, one in three men and one in two women 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.
It is never too late to begin an exercise program. Even those who have restricted mobility can still participate in some exercises. If you have not exercised in a while or are concerned about exercising alone, the LMH Fit for Life program can provide instruction and support at an affordable fee.
There are two program options. Fit1 offers an initial assessment and guidance by an exercise physiologist, and then use of the exercise equipment at the two Fit for Life locations. For those needing ongoing support, the Fit Assist program pairs participants with a trained volunteer who can exercise with them.
National Senior Health and Fitness Day is May 25. Older adults are invited to try out different exercise activities at the second annual Fitness Crawl. LMH and community partners Lawrence Parks and Recreation, Lawrence Public Library, Douglas County Senior Services and Hy-Vee are teaming up again this year to offer this free special event. Arete Fitness of Eudora is also joining in this year with an event in Eudora.
No advance registration is needed. Participants can try out as few or as many activities as they would like. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes and bring water to drink.
There will be another opportunity in June for all ages to try out different fitness activities when LMH’s community partner, the Lawrence Public Library, will offer Fitness Fridays, each Friday morning at 7 a.m. on the Library Lawn beginning June 10 and ending July 29. Join in for yoga, Tai Chi, Piyo, Pound! and more.
• 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 832-7920. Or go tolmh.org/events and search for Fitness Crawl or contact Aynsley Anderson Sosinski at 505-3066.
• For a complete schedule of Fitness Fridays at the Lawrence Public Library, go to lawrencelibrary.org and click on Summer Reading.
• For more information about LMH Therapy Services Tai Chi classes, call the LMH Performance and Wellness Center at 505-5840.
• For more information about the Fit for Life programs, call LMH Therapy Services at 505-2712.
• For more on activity recommendations for older adults, go to cdc.gov/physicalactivity.
• The National Institute on Aging offers a free DVD or instructional book to help people get started with a simple exercise program. Visit nia.nih.gov/Go4Life or call 800-222-2225.
— Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, MA, RN, is Community Education Coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, a major sponsor of WellCommons. She is a Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness Coach. She can be reached at email@example.com.