- Special Sections
- Public Notices
BOX: Tammy Davis, Atria Engage Life director, offers these tips for older adults who exercise:
The National Institutes of Health offers additional tips on exercise benefits for seniors at http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exercise/toc.html. By ROBERT VILLANUEVA email@example.com ELIZABETHTOWN — Don’t just sit there. Get moving. If you’re an older adult and you have the chance to exercise, go ahead. The perception that exercise is too dangerous for older adults has given way to studies that contradict that notion, the National Institutes of Health reports. Research shows exercise can benefit any age group, and keeping physically active and exercising regularly can improve mood, relieve depression and prevent or delay certain types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Exercise is on the agenda for residents at Atria, a retirement community in Elizabethtown. “They can do just about everything,” Atria Engage Life Director Tammy Davis said. “You don’t want to limit the ones who can do.” Davis leads residents in Seniorcize — an exercise program — up to five days a week at the facility. Generally few exercises are off limits for residents, though she doesn’t include aerobics. “I think you have to know what you’re working with,” Davis said. Seniorcize lasts 15-20 minutes and includes music, which the residents love. The music can be anything from big band to country, Davis said. Individuals might have specific requirements or limitations, she said, and an exercise routine should be catered to fit individual needs. Since she has residents of various mobility levels in her exercise sessions, Davis makes sure to modify some of the routines. For instance, if a resident uses a wheelchair, the exercises for the legs involving kicking to the side might become a kick from the wheelchair. Other exercises include squats and the use of 1-pound hand weights. “It’s all about the muscle, keeping the muscle strong,” Davis said. Keeping muscles in shape can help prevent falls, she said. About 10 residents regularly participate in Seniorcize, but others take advantage of the walking path around Atria or other activities. Residents who play games like the ring toss help their hand-eye coordination while those who play the bean bag toss or bowl using a plastic bowling set exercise their arm muscles. “Their muscles deteriorate more rapidly if they’re not used,” Davis said. People lose 20 to 40 percent of their muscle tissue as they age, the NIH notes. Strength exercises can help restore muscle tissue. Exercise is important for maintaining or partially restoring strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. Inactivity can cause an older person to lose ground in those areas, thereby decreasing chances of staying healthy and independent. Another important factor for physical well-being, Davis said, is attitude. Residents at Atria who stay active tend to have better overall health. “The more positive you are about life itself, the better you will feel,” Davis said. Mental and physical health complement each other. “I’m really big on spirit,” Davis said. “The more inactive you get, the faster you decline.” Exercise and activity are beneficial to people in other ways, including promoting faster healing time, a healthier heart, muscle improvement and increased mental health. Anybody planning on starting an exercise program should consult a physician, specifically people who are at high risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes, and those who smoke or are obese. At Atrial, engaging residents mentally, physically and socially is important, Executive Director Tawna Gimborys said. “We really celebrate the golden years here,” she said. For older adults, staying active also has another important benefit. “It’s going to keep them independent longer,” Davis said. Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.