By Paula Walter
It’s the New Year, and with it comes a host of resolutions we initially are determined to carry out. For many, high on the list is eating healthy and getting in some form of exercise during the day.
There are many benefits to increasing the amount of your regular physical activity as it has many health advantages, including controlling your weight, fighting health conditions such as high blood pressure and lowering your cholesterol and triglycerides. Exercise helps reduce your risk of heart disease as it strengthens your heart as well as improving circulation. It also helps lower your blood sugar levels. It strengthens your bones and muscles, slowing the loss of bone density as your age.
It also helps keep you mentally sharp and reduces your risks of falls as you age.
Exercise not only improves your physical condition, but it helps improve your mood and relieves stress. Walking quickly for 30 minutes not only helps burn calories, but it also gives you a mental lift and leaves you feeling relaxed. If you can’t get out and hit the gym, try being more active during the day. Simple changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator are small ways you can increase your activity level. Although you may feel exhausted and don’t want to head to the park to walk or hit the treadmill, regular physical activity will make you feel better. Exercising delivers oxygen and nutrients to your body and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently, giving you more energy. It has also been shown to help you fall asleep easier.
Remember to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have health problems, such as heart disease or high blood pressures, among others.
If you are looking for exercise opportunities in Johnson County, there is an abundance of classes geared for seniors. The senior stretch class, led by Phil Walter, meets from 10:00 am to 11:00 at the fellowship hall at First Christian Church on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There is no charge for the class and you do not need to be a senior to participate.
Walter focuses on balance and fall prevention with his class. “If you think of fitness as a three-legged stool, it’s muscular strength, endurance and flexibility,” he stated. “You need those three components to be balanced. “ According to Walter, there are three things that control your balance, your cerebellum, your inner ear and your vision. “As you age, you start relying more and more on visual clues for balance,” Walter said. According to Walter, you need to more alert and focused when in the shower or night when you get up and it’s dark.
“Most of the ways to prevent falls is to always keep well focused on where you are stepping, how you are stepping and what you are stepping on,” Walter stated. “Focus is the main thing. If you keep your muscular strength, endurance and flexibility, you have a better chance of not falling. We dance, we stretch and lift weights, as well as do balance drills in our class.”
According to Walter, you need to put socialize in exercise. “You can’t underestimate the importance of getting out and socializing. I try to put the word socialize in exercise, he stated. “People don’t need to be isolated.”
According to Walter, most of the class are in their seventies. The oldest member is approximately 87 and the youngest is in her mid forties.
There are multiple exercise classes held at the Johnson County Senior Center, in addition to activities that work your brain. There is a Silver Sneaker class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:00. There is also a line dancing class on Monday and Thursday at 12:30. The class is taught by Linda Gee.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 am to 11:00 am, Sarah Ransome teaches an arthritis exercise class. Later on Tuesday, Chris Laing teaches a Tai Chi class at 12:30. There is also a gym at the senior center that offers several treadmills, incumbent bikes and weights. “We are getting a lot more equipment,” said Kathy Motsinger, director of the senior center. Typically there are between 20 to 25 people who use the gym each week.
According to Motsinger, director of the senior center, there is a Turtle Triathlon held in July, and a Golden Mile event where participants walk one mile at Ralph Stout Park. Last year, approximately 100 seniors participated and over 70 completed the journey. According to Motsinger, there were two participants that were 89 and 92 years old who participated and finished the event.
Don’t forget to check out the local gym and also check to see if there are other exercise classes you might be interested in that are available in the county.