Sunday, December 21, 2014

ROCKERS: Find ways to stay active

By LESLEA ROCKERS, East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging | 5/15/2013

[Editor’s note: May is Older Americans Month. To help mark the occasion, the East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging, 117 S Main St., Ottawa, offers tips on maintaining a healthful lifestyle.]

The benefits of exercise are both social and physical. Exercise and physical activity help you stay active and independent while helping to increase muscle mass to assist in mobility. Exercise also has been proven to increase mental cognition in older adults. Older adults do better when they continue to maintain relationships within the community and their relationships with family, friends and neighbors tend to flourish as well — exercising the body and mind helps achieve both of these.

Older adults who stay active also are more likely to volunteer and be involved in civic and social groups, which allows them the opportunity to share their wisdom and experience while making valuable contributions to their community.

Older adults have a variety of options for exercise and physical activity. Exercise should be focused on helping improve balance, range of motion and flexibility and increasing muscle strength without putting too much strain on the body. Exercise that is too strenuous can increase the risks of falling and breaking bones. Below is a list of common exercises proven beneficial to older adults:

• Walking;

• Biking;

• Gardening;

• Stretching programs;

• Swimming programs;

• Choreographed fitness, such as dancing, yoga, water aerobics or tai chi;

• Structured games, including Wii bowling or miniature golf;

• Brain games, including cards, puzzles, trivia and board games;

• Volunteering with community based groups; and

• Joining a local fitness center or senior center exercise program.

There are many ways to get physical exercise and stay active, so that reaching into the cabinet, taking a short walk or buttoning your favorite shirt remain things you can do more easily and without assistance. Contact the Area Agency on Aging for a list of exercise programs in the community and at local senior centers at (785) 242-7200 or (800) 633-5621.

Leslea Rockers is special projects coordinator for the East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging.

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