You Can: A Fitness Story

By Matthew Gagliano – Barrington

A woman in her mid-70’s carries her groceries into her second floor walkup; a grandfather runs with his four-year-old granddaughter, winning a race by a step.

Seniors with energy and strength, living life to its fullest. Seniors, who take physical training seriously, knowing that it adds not only years, but quality years.

The benefits of regular physical activity are well documented, regardless of age. Still, many people choose a sedentary life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of men and two thirds of women engage in no physical activity once they reach age 75, and the AARP reports that 60 percent of people over the age of 64 live sedentary lives.

“Improving day-to-day function in older adults reduces healthcare, provides independency, and allows for a better quality of life,” according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Personal trainers, the college says, provide motivation, accountability and quality information, playing “an instrumental part in adding life to their years.”

The best of the trainers are helping all clients, and particularly seniors, set goals that are consistent with improving their lifestyles, rather than developing Olympic athletes.

“Many characteristics are associated with older age – like the inability to walk long distances, climb stairs, or carry groceries, largely due to a lack of physical activity,” says Dr. John Montgomery, a vice president of senior care solutions with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, in an article on Caregiver.com.

“Some are worried that exercise will cause illness or injury,” Montgomery says. “Others think exercise means they have to do something strenuous, which they may not be capable of. What they may not realize is that it could be more of a risk not to exercise.”

The CDC says seniors have more to gain than younger people because they are at higher risk for health problems that can be prevented by physical activity.

How can seniors benefit from even moderate physical activity? The CDC, Caregiver.com and ACSM suggest that physical activity:

  • Can partially reduce the loss of strength and stamina attributed to aging. (CDC)
  • Improves flexibility, especially in older adults, improves balance and fluidity, improving the ability to perform daily tasks. (ACSM)
  • Increases mental capacity, prevents disease, improves healing and quality of life, increasing life expectancy. (Caregiver.com)

At 92, Gene is on the golf course three or four times a week, age forcing him to cutback from 18 holes each outing to nine. He hasn’t allowed age to dictate his physical activity, and his zest for life and dedication to being active allowed him to join a select few of much younger adults on a trip to Antarctica in his 91st year.

Other seniors are on the golf and tennis courts, running, walking through neighborhoods, and working with personal trainers, convinced that remaining active and healthy will add quality years to their lives.

And that can make a four-year-old granddaughter smile.

 

Matthew graduated with his undergraduate degree in kinesiology from URI and his graduate degree from Boston University. He is currently the owner of Fitness Together in Barrington and Lincoln. In addition, Matthew is the area director for Fitness Together for both Rhode Island and Connecticut.

 

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