Old Town Hot Springs: Importance of health, fitness for seniors
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With age comes inevitable body changes, but partaking in exercise can prevent or delay diseases and improve the health of many seniors. Metabolism is known to slow down with each passing birthday, making weight that much easier to gain.
Unfortunately, most seniors experience a shift in their body compositions, an increase fat mass with reduced lean body mass and muscle strength. Seniors, especially women, may also have reduced bone strength, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
That being said, a well-rounded exercise regimen can reduce age-related changes. Strength training and weight bearing exercises can keep both muscles and bones strong, the strength of each can keep seniors more independent.
Senior fitness not only offers physical benefits, these individuals who exercise may have improved brain health, keeping seniors independent and happy. Exercise may also improve cognition and reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
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Staying active promotes heart health, muscle strength and improved balance. If you’re new to fitness, start small. Even a short walk can be beneficial. If you have issues with balance or a recent injury, starting with classes such as chair yoga or classes specifically designed for seniors will assist in keeping you safe and comfortable while getting in a beneficial workout.
Working with a personal trainer can also be another great resource to keep your exercise regimen in check with your goals and abilities. Swimming is another great way to increase cardiovascular fitness while also strengthening your muscles. It does all of this while putting minimal stress on your bones and joints, which is major plus for men and women with osteoporosis.
Yoga helps build muscle strength, aerobic fitness and core stability along with total mind mobility. While yoga is low-impact and gentle on your body’s joints, it is still weight bearing, meaning that you have to support your body’s weight with every posture, which is vital to strengthening not only your muscles but also your bones.
As always, it’s smart to check with your doctor before beginning a new fitness program, especially if you have a chronic condition, balance issues, or injuries. The most important exercise is the one that you will do and enjoy.
Old Town Hot Springs offers a number of group exercise classes each week geared toward seniors as well as personal trainers who specialize in working with older adults. Beginning Oct. 15, on Tuesday mornings, the facility is also launching a new senior-focused program that includes presentations, personal trainer access, fitness and nutrition advice and social activities.
Holly Harris is fitness director at Old Town Hot Springs
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