As an older person, improving your physical fitness is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Exercise can prevent many health problems and allows you to engage independently in activities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exercise:
- Helps control arthritis pain
- Can possibly help decrease high blood pressure
- Helps increase muscle strength and endurance
- Contributes to healthy bones and joints
- Decreases anxiety and depression
- Decreases risk of death from coronary heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes
- Helps an individual remain independent
According to the CDC, an older individual, without serious health conditions, and with a basic level of fitness, should engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, weekly. For greater results increase the moderate activity to 300 minutes a week. It is also important to carry out muscle resistance activities with all major muscles on two more days a week. Individuals who are confident about their level of physical fitness may choose to engage in more intense fitness activities with approval from a physician. Jake Westhoven, a personal trainer, who has an Associate of Applied Science Degree as a Physical Therapist Assistant, is the owner of Embody Wellness at 2245 Reynolds Road in Toledo where he works with many people 50 and older.
Posture, balance and coordination
Areas that Jake emphasizes with all seniors are posture, balance and coordination. He is concerned about improving poor posture because, according to the American Posture Institute, poor posture can lead to the upper body leaning forward which increases the risk of falls. Poor posture also may lead to back, shoulder and neck pain. Helping seniors to improve balance is another important way to decrease the risk of falls. This is critical as falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older Americans. Westhoven focuses on weight training for more mature individuals which improves strength and bone density. Strengthening muscles also helps greatly with performing routine activities.
Jake has noticed with his clients that there are a few beliefs that get in the way of participating in weight training. One belief that women often have is that they will become too bulky and muscular. Not true! Another concern is that weight training can be very intimidating to the inexperienced. Jake works hard to ease people slowly into this activity, in part, to build confidence. He focuses on proper form first before becoming concerned with the amount of weight lifted or the number of repetitions. As we get older, we become less flexible. According to the National Institutes of Health, flexibility is important as it allows you to have more easy movement for activities such as exercising, getting dressed and reaching objects. To address flexibility for his clients Jake focuses on flexibility primarily in the hips, hamstrings and shoulders. The main idea here is to get involved in exercise whether it be on your own or with a trainer. And, as we always need to consider, talk to your doctor about engaging in fitness activities if you have not done it for a while.