I didn’t wake up early last Saturday to watch the Royal Wedding, but I was fascinated to learn that just before the big day, Prince Harry had been appointed the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador by the Queen.
If I could offer Harry any advice in his new role based on my 25-plus years in the healthcare industry, I would appeal to him to convince his constituents that youth is not limited to a time in life. The Poet Samuel Ullman on youth:
"Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips, and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life."
This coming week America's aging adults will get a chance to stay young during National Senior Health & Fitness Day. Over 120,000 of our "golden" Americans, from more than 1,200 different locations throughout the U.S., will participate in activities intended to keep them healthy and fit.[i]
This is the nation’s largest health and wellness event for aging adults, and this year marks the 25th anniversary!
National Senior Health & Fitness Day is organized by the Mature Market Resource Center in partnership with over a dozen public and private entities that serve the aging. The locations that participate as hosts include retirement communities, health clubs, senior centers, park districts, hospitals, YMCAs, houses of worship, banks, local park & recreation departments, state & local agencies serving the aging, and other community organizations.
The activities are non-competitive and include walking events, low-impact exercises, health screenings and health information workshops.
If you are a senior who feels that you are not doing enough to maintain good health and fitness, this is the day for you! It is a great opportunity to learn about health and fitness programs in your community, as well as meet other seniors looking for friends to work out with on a regular basis.
If you have aging parents (especially those who are recently widowed) that are not getting out of the house enough, take them to a Senior Health & Fitness Day event near you.
In working with our Clinical Diabetes Educators and other clinicians, there is a consensus on how seniors should put together a custom fitness program.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your goal? Are you looking to lose weight, improve your physical energy, or strengthen certain muscles? We are all different, and so, we each have our own unique needs for improving fitness. Start with one goal that you feel is most important, and make that your focus. If you can improve in one key area, it makes it easier to work on other areas of your health.
- What are your issues? If you have any chronic conditions or pain in specific body parts, then you want to consult with your care management team about developing a fitness program that improves the condition and allows you to perform exercises that won’t exacerbate your current condition.
No matter what happens next, the important thing is to move. Whether it is walking around the block, performing household chores or even aerobics in front of the TV, staying physically active is essential for maintaining and improving health & fitness.
The other important thing is to stretch every day. Stretching is the key to maintaining your mobility and your independence. You do not have to stretch every muscle every day but focus on your lower extremities that are critical to maintaining good mobility. This includes your calves, hamstrings, hip flexors and quadriceps in the front of the thigh. Stretching your shoulders, neck and lower back are also essential, and even if you can only stretch three to four times per week, you will be maintaining good flexibility.[ii]
On Wednesday, May 30th, we are all Ambassadors of Youth! It is never too late to start a fitness program that gives you greater mobility, independence and a spirit of youth. Join us on National Senior Health & Fitness Day, and invite your golden friends to participate with you on this journey of improved outcomes and better living.