Kittle: Move it or lose it is the message for seniors

Some older adults may be afraid that exercise will be too strenuous, or could even harm them. However, the opposite is true.

“A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time:  Pills or stairs.”

—Joan Welsh

Today’s older adults want to stay active as long as they can, to carry on their favourite activities.

I have friends well into their 70s who still enjoy traveling, dancing, bowling and volunteering .

We all want to fight the signs of aging, stay strong, prevent injuries, and most importantly, to maintain independence and quality of life.

Some older adults may be afraid that exercise will be too strenuous, or could even harm them.

However, the opposite is true—seniors hurt their health far more by failing to exercise.

Staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent, diminish or delay the onset of many diseases and disabilities, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and osteoporosis.

The psychological benefits of exercise include enhanced mood and relaxation, resulting in less depression, as well as reducing stress and anxiety.

And let’s not forget the improved sleep, mental state, cognitive function and overall sense of well-being fostered by exercise.

As we age, we lose approximately five per cent of our muscle and bone mass per decade unless we engage in regular physical activity.

Gentle resistance training helps to maintain or partly restore strength and stability in the muscles and joints, and build bone mass.

Our balance and core strength also diminish with age, but exercise improves your strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn helps with balance, coordination and reducing the risk of fall.

It has been my pleasure to instruct seniors’ fitness classes in Kelowna for the last 10 years through my business, Pursuit Fitness.

I have seen firsthand the above benefits that staying active has had on my own senior participants.

Whether you are brand new to exercise or it has simply been a while, get medical clearance from your doctor before starting an exercise program.

This is especially important if you have a pre-existing condition. Ask if there are any activities you should avoid.

Start slow, with light walking and other gentle activities. Build up your exercise program little by little. Try spacing workouts in 10-minute increments twice a day, or try just one class each week.

Exercise should never hurt or make you unwell.

Stop exercising immediately and call your doctor if you feel dizzy or short of breath, develop chest pain or pressure, break out in a cold sweat, or experience pain.

Also, stop if a joint is red, swollen, or tender to touch.

You’re never too old to exercise. It is your key to staying strong, energetic and independent.

Bobbi Kittle is owner of Pursuit Fitness.