National Senior Health and Fitness Day – Health and Fitness Tips for Older Adults
Wednesday, May 25 is National Senior Health and Fitness Day, the country’s largest older adult promotional event focused on health and wellness. The event is in it 29th year and it serves as a time for organizations and seniors around the country to spread and gain awareness about the importance of health and fitness for older adults.
According to the National Senior Health and Fitness Day website, the goals of the event are to promote the importance of regular physical activity, and to show what local organizations are doing to improve the health of older adults in the communities. Fellowship Square shares the following health and fitness tips in honor of this day.
Before getting started on a fitness routine, the Mayo Clinic advises assessing current fitness ability to create a baseline of where to begin. An article on the Mayo Clinic website showcases some initial tests to establish aerobic and muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition. This involves recording fitness scores such as:
-Pulse rate before and immediately after walking one mile (1.6 kilometers)
-How long it takes to walk one mile, or how long it takes to run 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers)
-How many half sit-ups, standard pushups, or modified pushups one can do at a time
-How far one can reach forward while seated on the floor with legs in front of the body
-Waist circumference, just above the hipbones
-Body mass index (BMI)
Specifically, as it relates to seniors, the article notes “It’s also good to keep in mind that as you age, impaired balance, muscle weakness, and other factors can limit your exercise capacity. Injuries may be more frequent, and recovery can take longer.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn’t exercise or that you won't benefit from it. Before you start an exercise program, be sure to seek input from your doctor or an exercise therapist about how to create a program that's appropriate for you.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults need approximately 150 minutes of “moderate-intensity physical activity” per week. This can be broken down into manageable 30-minute sessions five days a week or even break up 30 minutes into 10-minute intervals throughout the day. Seniors that haven’t exercised in some time should remember to start slow and build up their momentum and stamina.
When it comes to health, fitness is important but nutrition is a major part of the equation as well. An article on the National Council on Aging states, “Giving your body the right nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight can help you stay active and independent. You’ll also spend less time and money at the doctor. This is especially true if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease.”
With age, metabolism slows so seniors may not need to eat as much as they used to in their younger years. It’s also important to focus on a balanced plate for every meal that includes the five main food groups. Naturally, a variety of fresh vegetables is a big part of what a balanced meal should include as well as fruit, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Avoiding or limiting processed foods, sugar, and sodium is key as well as maintaining portion control. The American Heart Association states: “Emphasize a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and liquid, non-tropical plant oils." The AHA gives a detailed account of portion and serving size here.
Before starting any fitness routine or switching up one’s diet, it’s important that seniors check in with their physician. The doctor can advise on which types of exercises and which type, or eating plan are best, based on the individuals' needs and health status.