It’s fun and fitness month at Midnight Sun Home Care! June, in Alaska, just makes us want to get out and get active. To celebrate, we’re talking about how seniors and their families can do this in a safe, informed and enjoyable way. And, we’re helping you do that too, by launching our Senior Fitness Program: Older, Wiser, Fitter, Faster, in partnership with AlaskaFit, and by hosting the Midnight Sun Charity Golf Classic.
Today, Owner of AlaskaFit, Ginny Grupp, shares a few tips and insights about senior fitness and the Senior Fitness Program (June 16th-July 25th)
Where to Start
Fitness, especially for seniors, is about starting where you are at, right now. For many seniors, there comes a time in life when they think, “Well, I’m at the age where I can just relax and enjoy.” That’s fine, but a problem arises when a person believes that equates not ever getting up off the couch, because eventually, they won’t be able to. A sedentary lifestyle at any age is a problem and it is the source of many health problems, especially back-related ailments.
Many seniors will slow down and move less because they experience issues like arthritis. While that can be painful and can flare up at times, the more you can keep your joints lubricated, the better you are going to feel. The way to do that is by moving them. Getting the joints going can be painful, but once you do, keeping them going is easier.
Three Areas of Focus
In Senior Fitness, we focus on:
Gait: Older people tend to shuffle; they don’t lift their feet off the ground. A proper gait involves having your feet clear the ground. If they are not getting off the ground, you are, in some ways, setting yourself up for a fall. And that’s what you want to avoid! Seniors look at shuffling as a safer way to move, but you are setting yourself up so that you can’t lift your foot over those obstacles you want to get around.
Core Strength and Balance: Most of us don’t think balance after about age seven, when we’re done playing hopscotch. But it’s critical. Even something as simple as standing on one foot while brushing your teeth can bring great benefits. You can have a finger or your hand on the counter, but that action is going to create an important reaction in your body. It will activate proprioceptors, which are nerve endings throughout the body that tell your brain where your body is in space. As we get older, we become more visual and those proprioceptors lose ability to communicate with brain efficiently. We need to help them along.
Another easy thing to do is: sit up tall, pull your belly button into your spine and brace that center part of the body. It may feel like nothing is going on when you do that, but it is actually very helpful, and you can do that anywhere.
At Alaska Fit, we’ve had clients in wheelchairs do this to increase their core strength. One such client came in and improved his game in all the activities he plays. Older folks can do that too, regardless of where they are at, physically.
Activities of Daily Living: the more fit that you are, the more you can do regular things in your life—keeping yourself more active and in your home longer. Can you get up comfortably from a chair, by moving to the edge and standing, or do you have to push with both arms and rock yourself forward to your feet? Note where you are and improve it. How? Practice. Get up, sit down, get up sit down and so on.
Want help? Attend Older, Wiser, Fitter, Faster. Our goal is to meet every senior where they are right now. We will assess our participants at the beginning middle and end of the program, to see how they improve. And we expect that they will. This is not just a feel good program (although that’s important). We will have measurable outcomes. This program will combine physical fitness and education—to help you get fit, handle stress, ensure good nutrition and get the most out of life—no matter where you are.