There are many reasons why regular exercise and physical activity are important to everyone, including older adults. Regular physical activity and exercise can produce long-term health benefits and that is one reason health experts recommend that older adults be active every day to maintain their health. Even moderate exercise can improve the health of people who are frail or have diseases that accompany aging.
In a study published in the journal Neurology, doctors found that exercise can slow cognitive decline—meaning our minds can stay sharper longer. Some older adults are reluctant to exercise because they think exercise will be too hard or that physical activity will harm them. Others think they have to join a gym or have special equipment. Often when older adults lose the ability to do things on their own, it isn’t just because they have aged—it’s often because they are not active. Lack of physical activity can lead to more doctor visits, more hospitalizations and the use of more medications.
Exercising regularly can actually help prevent or delay many disease and disabilities. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for chronic conditions. Studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems or difficulty walking.
Here are some programs that can help you increase your amount of physical activity, get more exercise and help improve the aging process.
Bone Builders is a community-based osteoporosis prevention program that combines exercise and education to help older individuals increase their bone density. One in two older women and one in five older men will suffer from a fracture due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can be caused by heredity and other reasons, including a lack of calcium in the diet, a sedentary lifestyle and certain medications.
There are more than 30 Bone Builders classes at locations throughout the community. Taught by a group of dedicated volunteers, the hour- long classes are held twice weekly. Participants learn and do exercises specifically chosen to increase muscle strength and bone density in order to improve balance and minimize the risk of falls. Participants bring their own weights to class.
To register for a FREE Bone Builders class, call 240-773-8268. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer teacher of Bone Builders classes, contact Phyllis Elperin at 240-773- 8268 or go to www.montgomeryserves.org/volunteers/rsvp-senior-volunteers.
Stepping On is a free County-supported falls prevention program led by a trained professional. Participants learn to manage health behaviors to reduce the risk of falls. Call 240-773-8290 for information.
The County Recreation Department has a wide variety of fitness facilities and activities for people of all ages. There are programs for adults 55+ related to health promotion, fitness and fun in many locations throughout the community. Indoor walking is available for free at county recreation centers.
There are low cost health promotion programs, screening and exercise classes, usually offered in community locations including shopping malls, county recreation and senior centers.
Alternative formats of this document are available upon request. Call Aging and Disability Services at 240-777- 3000.
People with difficulty using standard phones are encouraged to use Maryland Relay 711 when contacting organizations listed.