Research shows that in order to age successfully, we should be mentally and physically active, maintain social engagement and attempt to control risk factors for chronic diseases. For this reason, it’s very important to maintain both our physical health and our mental health.
Although there is a natural decline in muscle and bone mass that occurs as we age, we can slow down this rate of loss! Several studies have compared people 70 – 80 years old engaging in the same strength training regimen as 20 – 30-year-olds for 12 weeks. The participants’ strength was evaluated before and after the program and found that the strength gained in both sets of individuals was similar despite the age difference. So it is never too late or too early to start protecting our muscle and bone strength! This can be done by participating in regular physical activity. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week, as well as two days of muscle and bone strengthening.
Examples of aerobic activity include walking, exercise class, riding a bike, dancing or pushing a lawnmower to name a few – the possibilities are endless! These activities can be done in bouts of 10 minutes or more and help to get our blood pumping, lower our blood pressure and decrease our risk of stroke. Now that the weather is getting warmer, going for a bike ride or walking to the store are great ways to get active. If you opt to drive to the store, try parking further away from the door, or take the stairs if that is an option for you. If you’d rather stay indoors during the summer heat, elect to join one of Community Support Connections’ Virtual SMART Exercise classes! Email email@example.com or call 519-772-8787 for info on how to join. During these classes, we also offer muscle and bone-strengthening exercises. Strength training means that you are building muscle by using resistance – whether that comes from your body weight, free weights, bands or water bottles – anything that will give your muscles something to work against. This type of exercise can increase your muscular strength and decrease your risk of a fall. Doing these exercises on our feet can also help protect your bone mass. By performing weight-bearing activities, such as climbing stairs or low-impact aerobics, we can help decrease the amount of bone loss we experience as we age.
In addition to our physical health, our mental health is also very important to maintain throughout life. We want to try to do an activity each day that challenges our brains. Whether it’s a brain game such as a word search, Sudoku, or jigsaw puzzle, or by changing our movements – such as performing daily activities with your non-dominant hand (ex., brushing your hair or putting on your shoes), challenging our brains is important at every age. When we do this, it changes the way our brains process information and can help grow new neural connections. Consuming a healthy diet consistently with plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, protein, and healthy fats help nourish our bodies and our brains. In addition to the food we eat, making sure we are staying hydrated throughout the day is
also very important when it comes to brain functioning. Dehydration can lead to dizziness and headaches, which can impact our quality of life. Sipping on water throughout the day is best because by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated!
Discussing mental health concerns with a trusted family member, friend or healthcare provider can also be beneficial for our brain health. Being socially active in general, and getting together with friends and family continues to be important throughout life. Positive thinking exercises can be a great way to motivate ourselves as well. If we consider things that we are thankful for or what we look forward to doing each day we will be more likely to act towards these thoughts. For instance if we are excited to join an exercise class or social activity, we’ll be more likely to engage in that activity!
Looking for ways to stay mentally and physically active this summer? Are you interested in making friends and joining a new social activity? Check out our website at communitysupportconnections.org!