By Erica Moe | Get Fit
Active aging. Seems like an oxymoron. But, no longer! Changing the perception of healthy aging is a must. Currently, 11 million of the 78 million baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are exercising in fitness facilities. Raising this number and raising awareness is the goal of the Active Aging Week, Sept. 23–29. This annual International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) event promotes health and wellness to adults over age 50.
Previously, the old adage was to age gracefully. Today, we’re looking to age actively. Being active may look different as you get older. If you are active, don’t stop! If you haven’t started, it is never too late.
Physical activity guidelines suggest 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity per week. This includes activities like walking, water aerobics and dancing. You can find many activities that are easier on the joints, but be sure to do some weight-bearing activity like strength training.
Add in some coordination and balance training for a well-rounded program for aging adults. Try tai chi, adaptive yoga, or pickleball. Get active with a group to an added bonus in combining physical and social components.
Active aging is attainable and enjoyable. There are many facets to health including physical, mental, social and emotional factors. These components of life are not separate, but are interconnected.
Not only does physical activity make your body move and feel better, the American Council on Exercise states that it also improves memory, enhances problem solving skills and blood flow to the brain, acts as a natural anti-depressant and stress reliever, and improves concentration.
If that’s not enough, here’s another reason to find physical activities that you enjoy: Age-related weight gain occurs due to reduced metabolism. Metabolism lowers in response to muscle loss, which can be as much as a half a pound a year. With a half-pound less of muscle, not as many calories are being burned as fuel and weight gain occurs.
The USDA My Plate for Older Adults can be helpful. Be aware that hunger cues due to aging and medication can be challenging to get all the nutrients that are needed for a healthy diet. Under use of available resources is also a factor. ICAA reports that only two in five eligible older Americans currently enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The ICAA states that by 2020, there will be 1 billion people over the age of 60. This will continue to increase and by 2045, one out of every five people will be over 60.
In celebration of Active Aging Week, the YMCA will be open free of charge to those 50 and older. Look for special educational seminars, group exercise classes and more! And, anyone who joins in September gets up to $50 to use toward a program.
Active Aging Week events at Mission Valley YMCA
- Hydration & Fall Risks, noon
- Check Your Mood Screenings, 8–11 a.m.
- Thrivent Financial Table, 8–11 a.m.
- Elder Help Table, 8:30–10:30 a.m.
- Blood Pressure Screenings, 8 a.m.–1 p.m.
- InBody Screenings, 8 a.m.–1 p.m.
- Your Legacy Workshop, noon–1:30 p.m.
- Coffee Social, 9–11:30 a.m.
- Textiles Workshop, noon–2 p.m.
- iPhone Training, 11 a.m.
- Gravity Demo, 8:30–9:15 a.m.
—Erica Moe, M.S. is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist who writes on behalf of Mission Valley YMCA where she is fitness director.