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If you were looking for a reason to start your day with pep in your step, look no further because today is the 26th annual Senior Health & Fitness Day! Join more than 120,000 older adults at over 1,200 participating locations embracing the benefits of physical activity and celebrating Older Americans Month.
The benefits of exercise are many-fold: it can boost mood and reduce the risk of depression, lower the risk of falls and fall-related injuries, reduce the risk of dementia, and potentially slow the rate of cognitive decline in older adults. The Dana Foundation’s publication, “Successful Aging & Your Brain,” a resource on staying sharp as we age, notes that according to many experts, regular exercise is the single most important thing we can do to improve overall health and prevent disease.
Finding ways to optimize these health benefits is increasingly relevant to an aging US population. By 2030, for the first time in US history, older Americans are projected to outnumber children, according to the US Census Bureau. By then, one in five residents is expected to be retirement age and will be adjusting to the physical and mental changes associated with aging.
Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized dementia as a rapidly growing public health problem. By 2050, the worldwide population with dementia is projected to triple, rising from today’s 50 million to over 150 million people. This is partly why initiatives like National Health & Senior Fitness Day and the National Institute on Aging’s physical activity campaign, Go4Life, work to keep older Americans healthy and fit.
The experts at the National Institute on Aging suggest choosing activities that are fun and keep you interested and motivated. Their article on staying motivated offers some ideas:
- Playing catch with your grandchildren or playing fetch with your pet.
- Signing up for dancing lessons.
- Spending time at the golf course or driving range.
- Lifting weights while watching TV.
- Joining or organizing a walking group.
Remember, no matter your fitness level and experience, you can tailor your regimen to your needs. Health care professionals can best advise those with chronic conditions or disabilities on how to exercise safely. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans states:
A single session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can reduce blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, improve sleep, reduce anxiety symptoms, and improve some aspects of cognition on the day that it is performed.
Whether you walk your pet, partake in a little chair yoga, or tackle those pesky household chores, think positively—some activity is better than none!
For more resources on the aging brain, visit the Successful Aging & Your Brain page on dana.org. You can also find Successful Aging & Your Brain content streaming to a medical waiting room near you, courtesy of our partnership with Everwell+Plus. Stay tuned!