A Happy and Fit New You!

By TERRI BRYCE REEVES

Each New Year, we promise ourselves to eat more wisely, keep up with doctor visits and exercise regularly, all keys to healthy aging — and happiness too.

Science has shown that regular exercise boosts your mood (by increasing
endorphins and decreasing stress). And, just knowing you are doing something to
increase your longevity should make you elated.

But sometimes we become bored with the same old exercise routine or reach a plateau and stop seeing results. Often we become involved with too many other distractions and put our fitness goals on the back burner.

Maybe its time to consider changing up the routine and challenging your body and
mind in new ways. Time to find some go-to activities that inspire you and keep you motivated. Finding an exercise partner will also increase your chances of
long-term success.

The following activities are just a sampling of what is out there for seniors
and most can be adapted to every fitness level. If there is any question about safety or suitability, check with your doctor first.

So get some friends together, mix things up a bit and experience the rewards
that exercise has to offer in 2018.

Silver Sneakers

What began 25 years ago as classes for 65 and older adults, has now grown and evolved to accommodate all fitness levels
and interests. In addition to the traditional classes, options include programs for Baby Boomers and active adults, as well as FLEX, a community fitness network with
more than 70 types of unique classes taught in parks, rec centers, etc. Silver Sneakers is free with qualifying Medicare health plans and provides access to thousands of locations across the country. Visit SilverSneakers.com for more information.

 

Dance the night away


Join the swing dance craze. Or salsa,
waltz or disco your way to fitness. Any way
you spin it, dancing is known to improve
gait, balance, cardiovascular fitness, coordination
and mood. Study after study shows
dancing is effective in staving off dementia
too. According to a 21-year study led by the
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, aging
adults who danced regularly reduced their
risk of dementia by 76 percent.

 

 

Get your Zen on

Low-impact, meditative exercises like tai chi or yoga allow the body to slowly transition from one position to the next. Yoga is a wonderful way to stretch, reduce
stress and maintain flexibility and balance. Those with physical limitations can adapt their poses with the use of chairs. The University of Maryland Medical Center credits tai chi with helping to improve the balance of people as old as 92.

Water Workouts

Swimming increases cardiovascular fitness, builds strength, improves flexibility and endurance. It’s also very low-impact. Those who don’t care to swim laps can take partake in water aerobics, which research shows can improve muscle tone, body composition and reduce joint and lower back pain.

 

The great outdoors by heel or wheel

Enjoy the beautiful weather this time of year by biking, hiking or fitness walking.
All are low-impact, enjoyable, cardiovascular activities that help improve balance and posture, while reducing stress.

Kayaking and standup paddle boarding

Get up close and personal with nature while toning abs, arms, back, chest and
shoulders. Kayaking and standup paddle boarding offer great cardio benefits too and you’ll likely spot manatees, dolphins and other interesting water creatures.

Pickleball

Pickleball is said to have originated when a group wanted to play badminton but couldn’t find a shuttlecock, so they lowered the net and used a whiffle-like ball and plywood paddles. Today this mashup of tennis, badminton and ping pong is played on a court smaller than a tennis court so there isn’t so much running around and thus, less wear and tear on joints. It is gaining huge popularity, especially with seniors.

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