Why exercise is important for seniors |  Community

Every morning between 9.30 a.m. and 10.00 a.m. we have group exercises in the center. We vary our exercise routines every day. We offer chair exercises, yoga, aerobics, band exercises, exercises with weights, and exercises specifically for people with arthritis.

I thought I’d say how important exercise is for everyone, especially older adults. We’ll first look at how exercise can improve people with arthritis.

There are 1.5 million adults in Tennessee who have some form of arthritis. That corresponds to one in three adults. Arthritis has been portrayed as a disease of the elderly, but in fact 45% of Tennessee people diagnosed with arthritis are under 55 years of age. Arthritis is not curable, but it is controllable. Learning how to manage our arthritis can help relieve pain, improve physical activity, reduce doctor visits, and decrease stiffness.

One of the most effective methods of treating arthritis is exercise. Exercise is vital for people with arthritis. It increases flexibility and strength, reduces joint pain and helps against fatigue.

You may say that you feel too bad or too stiff to exercise. You don’t have to run a marathon to reduce arthritis symptoms. Even moderate exercise can relieve your pain and help you maintain a healthy weight. When arthritis threatens to immobilize you, movement keeps you moving. I have arthritis in my back and I can tell you without a doubt that exercise helps relieve the pain. The quieter I sit, the stiffer I am when I get up to move. The more I move, the less stiffness and pain become.

The exercises train the muscles that support the joints, improve your freedom of movement, strengthen the muscles and help you relax. The exercises span almost every joint in the body, including the neck, back, hands and fingers, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrists, hips, legs, knees, ankles, and even toes.

The range of motion exercises relate to the ability to move your joints through the full range of motion for which they are designed. If you have osteoarthritis, the pain and stiffness make it very difficult to move certain joints more than a little, which can make even the simplest of tasks a challenge. Movement exercises include gentle stretches and movements that stress the joints over their full span. By doing these exercises regularly, you can maintain and even improve the flexibility of your joints.

Now we’re going to look at some other ways exercise can improve your health:

• Aerobic / endurance exercises strengthen your heart and make your lungs more efficient. If your heart muscle is stronger, doing daily activities like climbing stairs, lifting a laundry basket, or trimming bushes will put less stress on your heart muscle. Regular exercise can lower your blood pressure and energy levels so you can pursue your favorite hobbies without taking a break.

• Exercise improves blood flow to your body, including your brain. This helps flush unwanted products out of the brain, avoiding problems with memory loss, the ability to process information, and problem solving that, if left untreated, can eventually lead to dementia. Movement can get you up and out of the house, often around other people, and gives you opportunities to interact and engage with others to keep your mind sharp.

• If you focus on balance and flexibility, these exercises can increase your confidence in your flexibility. When your body feels stronger and you are more attuned to what your muscles are doing, you can move with confidence and avoid spending your days in fear of losing control if you fall. When you are convinced of your body’s capabilities, you can be a more active adult.

• The strengthening exercises help to maintain and improve your muscle strength. Strong muscles can support and protect joints affected by arthritis.

• When you exercise, the bones in your body have to work hard. During exercise, you build bone density. Improving your bone density can reduce your risk of fractures and increased pain and reduced mobility.

• With regular exercise comes regular sleep. Changes in temperature during and after your workout can help your body fall asleep faster and get the deep, restful sleep it needs to stay healthy and strong.

• Exercise improves your mood. As many adults get older, it is very natural for them to experience periods of depression or even depression as a result of changes in your life. Exercise of all kinds triggers the release of endorphins in the body – a chemical that improves mood and happiness. Taking a sports class like the one we have here at the center every day is a great way to socialize and make friends with other seniors nearby. The social benefits of exercise for older adults go a long way in improving their mood and improving their prospects.

• You will live longer if you exercise. According to the World Health Organization, sedentary lifestyle is one of the leading causes of death. This is because a sedentary lifestyle can lead to heart problems, obesity, diabetes, risk of cancer, and other deadly health conditions. Regular physical activity like whining will lift you out of the chair and reduce your risk for these serious health conditions.

I hope I have convinced you to come and join us for practice sessions. If you’re like me you might be telling yourself a few reasons why you shouldn’t come for a workout. Now I’m going to let you know some of these excuses I’ve used and why you shouldn’t heed them.

• I am in too much pain. Some pain and discomfort is typical when you first start moving, but usually after a few minutes you will start to feel better. Something that can help is taking an anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or using a hot pack or pain reliever cream before a workout.

• I’m just too tired. Once you get started, you will likely feel like finishing. While it may seem counterproductive, exercise relieves fatigue. Exercise increases blood flow throughout your body, which triggers the release of feel-good hormones, such as endorphins, that can make you feel more alert and energized.

• I just don’t have time. The exercises only last about 30 minutes. Create a schedule so that you can meet all of your other commitments so that you don’t have to worry about anything else. Be sure to add the practice classes to your schedule.

• Exercise is boring. Look for a buddy to bring with you. It’s always easier to train when others are counting on you. If you come alone there are plenty of smiling faces here to train with.

• I am too confident. You won’t feel out of place here. There are many beginners who plan on doing sports. We’re all in the same boat.

• Exercise courses cost too much. There are no fees for any of our programs here at our center. We also have free water for you.

• It’s been so long since I’ve trained, I don’t know where to start. The exercises we do are suitable for every level of experience. We are all beginners after being home for over a year. The exercises progress slowly so you don’t have to worry that something is too strenuous for you to start.

Some other activities in the center in the coming days are:

• Sports: daily from 9:30 am to 10:00 am.

• Friday: 10am – Bingo with Chattanooga Hospice; 11 a.m. – Bible minute; 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. – balance issue

• Monday: 10am – Bingo with Chattanooga Hospice; 11 am – July birthday party with Humana

• Tuesday: 10am – Bingo with Patty Parks; 11 a.m. – craft

• Wednesday: 10 am – bingo with Joanna Fiochetta; 11 a.m. – give something away for the day

Sue Walker is the Executive Director of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens’ Center. She can be reached at 423-781-7632.

Sue Walker is the Executive Director of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens’ Center. She can be reached at 423-781-7632.