Physical, mental health important to seniors

By Cathy Brownfield

Family Recovery Center Publicist

“Kate,” approaching her “mature age,” has made exercise a priority in her life for a lot of reasons.

She has a sharp picture in her mind of her mother at the end of her life. She doesn’t want to lose all her muscle and fail to thrive as her mother, once so vibrant and alive, did. She doesn’t plan for her children to have to make the decision to place her in a nursing facility. She intends to be around for a good, long time.

You may be getting a little older now. When the first mild days of spring arrived and you reached to open the window, it may have seemed a little heavier than you recalled. Or maybe it took two hands to lift it, and that was with a little strain. You may notice little pockets of body fat forming in odd places, or that your knees are stiffer than they used to be. Maybe you have become a little “forgetful,” more than you used to be.

You may have decided these are symptoms of aging. You may have decided to just go with the flow or to do something about it, to delay or prevent health conditions. Welcome to senior living. And we are now entering May, Older Americans Month in the USA.

Aging happens to everyone. Most of us attain that age of maturity and the kinds of things that affect the daily living of older Americans. The National Institute on Aging advises that exercise and physical activity help you to keep and improve strength so you can stay independent longer, have more energy to do what you want to do, improve balance so you won’t fall, prevent and delay heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Exercise also perks up your mood and reduces depression.

What activities do you enjoy-or enjoyed in the past? You don’t require a gym membership to get daily exercise. Walking is great exercise. You can enjoy the fresh air, the flowers of the season, birdsong, visiting and connecting with neighbors and friends along the way. You may have a nice park in your community or a bike trail. Swimming season will be here before we know it. Some public pools provide an hour for adult swimmers before the younger set moves in for the day.

Yoga isn’t about twisting into a pretzel. It’s about flexibility, balance and improving your general health. It is a great stress buster. In fact, the Mayo Clinic defines it as, “a mind-body practice that combines stretching exercises, controlled breathing and relaxation. You can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve heart function. And almost anyone can do it.”

Yoga helps to develop strength, balance and flexibility and it improves range of motion. It helps with insomnia, anxiety and depression. Chronic health conditions may also be improved with the practice of yoga.

Regular physical activity and exercise are important for good mental and physical health.

“Although exercise and physical activity are among the healthiest things you can do for yourself, some older adults are reluctant to exercise,” advises The National Institute on Aging. But

“Staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits and even improve health for some older people who already have diseases and disabilities.”

Studies show “taking it easy” is risky. And many retirees will tell you if they sit in their rocking chairs they won’t be around to enjoy retirement.

“When older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it doesn’t happen, just because they’ve aged. It’s usually because they’re not active,” NIA says.

The U.S. Attorney General says inactive people are twice as likely to develop heart disease. They visit the doctor more, are hospitalized more, and use more medications.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities. For information about the agency’s educational, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or e-mail, FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.