It is likely no surprise that physical fitness is important for people of all ages. The health benefits of regular exercise are extensive, especially for older adults. To remind aging Americans of the importance of their health and fitness this year, National Senior Health and Fitness Day is being celebrated on May 26.
What is National Senior Health and Fitness Day?
National Senior Health and Fitness Day is the nation’s largest older adult health and wellness event. The goal of the event is to promote regular physical exercise in order to keep older Americans healthy, fit, and safe. With more than 100,000 seniors participating at over 1,000 locations nationwide, the event also showcases what local groups are doing to promote senior health and wellness.
The event is a public/private partnership organized by the Mature Market Resource Center (MMRC), a 30+ year-old national clearinghouse for professionals who work in older adult markets. This year, event activities include both virtual and in-person mini health fairs with exercise demonstrations, presentations and health screenings. Anyone is welcome to participate, but organizations that work with older adults (including health clubs, senior centers, senior living communities and worship centers) are encouraged to register via FitnessDay.com.
Why Does Health and Fitness Matter for Seniors?
No matter your age or abilities, it is never too late to make your health and fitness a priority. For older adults, a healthy lifestyle can improve overall wellness, serve as preventative care and improve cognitive function. Here are more details about how and why to implement fitness into your routine.
As people age, we tend to slow down for a variety of reasons: general health concerns, excess weight, pain issues, or fear of failing–just to name a few. Or maybe you’ve never been a very active person. However, as we grow older, an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever to your overall health and wellness. In fact, recent studies show that just 15 minutes of exercise each day can slow the aging process on a cellular level and even add years to your life.
There are great physical benefits of exercise for older adults. Being active helps boost your metabolism and build muscle mass. Exercise also improves flexibility, balance and coordination, which can reduce the risk of falling. Additionally, strength training can alleviate symptoms of chronic pain conditions like arthritis.
However, it’s important to recognize that wellness goes beyond your physical body and its abilities. Fortunately, exercise also improves mental health. Working out is a great way to reduce stress and boost your mood: the body releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, which can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
Maintaining your physical fitness is a great step towards preventative care. In fact, the American Heart Association states that 150 minutes of exercise each week can lower the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer and more. Staying updated on your vaccines and having regular health screenings are other great ways to avoid or detect health issues early on. In addition to keeping you healthy, preventative care helps you save money on healthcare costs. Preventative services including health screenings, counseling services, vaccines and annual wellness visits are covered by Medicare. Overall, these types of preventative care can help steer you away from more serious and expensive issues down the road.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that symptoms of cognitive decline, such as memory loss and confusion, impact one in nine American adults. Unfortunately, memory and cognitive illnesses are often difficult to prevent. However, maintaining your overall health and wellness is a great place to start. Besides preventing heart disease and other related illnesses, regular exercise can also reduce the risk of memory disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Physical activity may vary depending on ability, but anything that gets you moving–from a leisurely stroll to gardening–is beneficial.
If you or your loved one has already received a dementia diagnosis, remaining physically active can help them feel better overall. Exercise keeps muscles, joints and the heart working their best. Additionally, physical activities help maintain a healthy weight and good sleeping habits.
Along with exercise, a healthy diet can lower the risk of cognitive decline. The brain uses about 20 percent of the body’s caloric intake, so eating the right foods can ensure you are obtaining the proper vitamins and minerals. Aim for a balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Limit sugar intake and avoid saturated fats.
Celebrate Senior Health and Fitness Day on May 26th!
No matter if you’re celebrating with an organization or just at home, take time to make your health and fitness a priority on May 26. Learn about the many benefits of regular exercise and decide how you can incorporate physical activity into your lifestyle. Or consider scheduling an appointment with your care provider to get caught up on vaccines and health screenings. No matter what step you take, your health will surely improve when you make your wellness and fitness a priority.