Our elders are essential to our communities, and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension celebrates National Senior Citizens Day by encouraging them to stay active and strong.
“One of the most important things you can do for your health as you age is to engage in regular physical activity,” said Erica Reyes, Program Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. “Regular activity may reduce the risk of developing age-related health issues and helps strengthen your muscles. Even small improvements in muscle strength can make a big difference in your ability to live on your own and do things like climb stairs and carry groceries.”, Reyes adds.
Upshur County Extension Agent, Julie York, encourages people to discuss potential physical activity routines with their physician before starting. “Simply make a phone call so your doctor or nurse can check your medica record and advise you on the best method of activity for you personally,” she said.
There are several techniques to build muscles, whether at home or at the gym. Choose exercises that engage your body’s main muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms) on two or more days per week for 30-minute sessions each. If you are unable to exercise for 30 minutes at one time, try three 10-minute sessions. You may wish to consider:
Lifting weights: Depending on your fitness, you may need to begin with 1- or 2-pound weights. Use a lighter weight for the first week, and then progressively increase it. Beginning with heavy weights may result in injury.
Resistance bands: You may substitute weights with elastic bands, which come in various resistance levels, from light to heavy.
Gardening: Heavy gardening activities such as shoveling, lifting mulch bags, pushing wheelbarrows, and digging all use major muscle groups. Gardening is comparable to exercise such as walking and biking. Please remember always to be hydrated when working out in the sun.
Reyes recommends taking an instructor-led strength training class. “It will offer a structured routine, corrections to find the right technique and form, and the opportunity to build support networks with others who share your interests,” Reyes concludes.
Contact York to learn more about safe physical activity from the National Arthritis Foundation for anyone with limited mobility and who are over 50 years of age at 903.680.8128.
Julie York, M.S.
CEA-Family & Community Health
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Upshur Co.