Older Adults Take Fitness Seriously, Too

It’s always wise to exercise.

Exercise, in fact, is the closest thing to an anti-aging potion. A Tufts University study, for instance, found women who did strength exercises twice a week for one year had bodies that were 15 to 20 years more youthful than when they began. Furthermore, exercise has been shown to prevent falls, promote independence and reduce sick time and the need for nursing home care. Exercise also has been proven to stimulate the brain to release hormones that alleviate pain and produce a sense of well-being, which reduces fatigue and relieves depression.

Many older adults not only know the value of exercise, they have fully embraced it, committing themselves to the rigors and rewards of a fitness program. Leo Weil of Sun City Palm Desert bicycled 600 miles in 11 days at the age of 66. Sam Gadless of Florida finished the 1998 New York Marathon at the age of 91. Seventy-three-year-old John House of Sun City Grand near Phoenix bicycles 40 miles every day.

Residents of Del Webb Corporation’s Sun City adult communities have developed “10 Far-Out Fitness Fundamentals” to help seniors across the country get off their rockers and have some fun:

Play the “skin game” with your partner to look for melanoma or abrasions. And remember to wear your sunscreen.

Work on those abdominal muscles and rediscover your belly button! Try chair aerobics.

Lose the remote control. Get up, get out, get involved.

Accumulate your frequent miles on a treadmill, stationary bicycle, cross-trainer or stair climber, or just jog in place.

Forget fast food; it is fried fat. Try stir-fried, steamed or raw vegetables. And remember, all calories count, even if they are off your spouse’s plate. (Snacks, too.)

Take a nap. Restorative naps improve alertness, sharpen your memory skills and generally reduce symptoms of fatigue.

Understand your hereditary risk for osteoporosis. Exercise your bones, increase your calcium intake, avoid alcohol and make your skeleton a nonsmoking section.

Where there is smoke, there is ? emphysema, lung cancer, heart disease, halitosis, gum disease and burned holes in the couch.

Mark Twain said it best: “Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” Take time to reminisce. Encourage intergenerational events. Continue to seek stimulation and thought-provoking activities to nurture your spiritual self.

Danny McCoy, a fitness expert employed at Sun City, Georgetown, Texas, pointed to another fitting Mark Twain quote: “I may wear out, but I’ll be darned if I’m going to rust out!”

Take this advice to heart — and keep it going the whole year long!

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