Many of life's limitations we place on ourselves, and we can lift those limitations at any time. If you have any doubt about this, take a look at Willie Murphy, the powerlifting granny who at 77 years old can deadlift 215 pounds. Best of all, she can lift her grandchildren, shovel her own snow, and carry her own groceries with ease — and that's what it's really all about. Strength gives you the freedom to keep living life the way you want to live it, without physical limitations. As Willie says, "It's about life. L-I-F-E!"
How might fitness and more brain tissue help you? Researchers have found that the fittest elders had the highest scores on tasks like coordination, scheduling, planning, and memory. And in a recent study of 1,740 adults older than 65, researchers found that the incidence of dementia in individuals who walked three or more times per week was 35% lower than those individuals who walked less than three days per week.
For balance exercise: Do some or all of these exercises every day for best results. Have someone standing nearby to support you if you are concerned you might fall, especially for the ones where I suggest closing your eyes, since this is the most challenging. Speak with your doctor before doing these exercises if you have a balance disturbance or are concerned about whether it is safe for you to do them.
Research has found that bone mass can be increased in older women by physical activity. To determine whether physical activity can actually reduce the risk for broken hips, a large multicenter study was done. Nearly 10,000 women over 65 years of age were evaluated. The results of this important prospective (forward looking) study appeared in the July 15,1998 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Building muscle mass and focusing on better balance can help reduce the risk of falls and broken bones. A good balance exercise for older adults is the chair stand: Start in a seated position in an armless chair. Keeping your back and shoulders straight, extend your arms parallel to the ground and slowly stand up, without using your hands. Sit down and repeat the move 10 to 15 times, rest, and then complete another set of 10 to 15 reps. You can further improve your balance with the toe stand: Stand behind the chair — use it only for support — and slowly raise up on your tiptoes. After holding the position for a moment, slowly lower your heels back to the floor; repeat two sets of 10 to 15 reps.
Gather some friends for a therapeutic painting session and unwind. For-fun painting classes (a.k.a "Paint bars", where an instructor leads everyone through painting the same picture while participates indulge in some beverages) have become increasing popular for a fun and relaxing night out. Head over to PaintNite.com to search for class times and locations.
One of the important conclusions of the research is that it's important to select balance-training exercises that are specific to activities you are likely to do during the day. For instance, you might want to do balance exercises on one leg that mimic the act of walking if you are unsteady while you walk (when you walk, one leg is in the air). Tai chi is excellent for this because it involves slow, coordinated movements, and is particularly beneficial for balance since you lift one leg frequently while doing it. (See also the balance exercises at the end of this article.)
Participate in a senior sports league. Check out the rec center for sign ups or meet-up dates. Most community centers hold organized game play for basketball, volleyball, soccer, and flag football (men, women, and co-ed). Get a group of friends on board and enter the league or sign up individually to be placed on a team. Check for openings on existing teams; church and community groups often have teams
×