Let’s Get Moving! – Staying Fit While Aging

Science tells us that regular physical activity is essential to healthy aging. And the good news is that it is never too late to start becoming more active.
Elderly couple dancing

Older people can and should keep moving and remain active as they age.

By Tim Mitchell, Fund Development Coordinator, Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E

Have you seen her on Facebook? The post about a 96 year old woman doing the Electric Slide on the dance floor at a wedding went viral with hundreds of thousands of views and has also been picked up by several major news outlets. The 96 year old’s grandson, Todd Goodman, originally posted the video on Instagram saying, “There is nothing in my life that I’m more proud of than the fact that this amazing 96 years young dancing machine is my Nana. She is my inspiration, my motivation, my spirit and soul.”

The fascinating thing about watching the video is that this woman has the face and gray hair of an older person, but the dance moves of a thirty year old, looking better than some of the youngsters surrounding her on the floor. Yes, you should Google “96 year old woman dancing at wedding” to see it for yourself.

What a great example of how older people can and should keep moving and remain active as they age. Another outstanding example is Tao Porchon-Lynch, a World Class yoga instructor and ball room dancer….at the age of 100! Having been a yoga instructor for decades, she began competitive ballroom dancing at the age of 87 and was inducted into the Guinness World Records as the World’s Oldest Competitive Dancer at the age of 99. At the age of 94 Guinness named her the World’s Oldest Yoga Instructor and she continues to teach 7 classes per week.

Tao’s dance partner and teacher is only 26. He said, “She is a reminder to me and my other students to keep moving.” In spite of three hip replacements, she continues to dance the jitterbug, waltz and the foxtrot. When asked by a CBS news correspondent in an interview how she can keep dancing after three hip replacements, she responded with a smile, “Because I’m the boss.” When asked if she feels her age, she said, “I don’t feel any age at all.” She continued, “The breath of life is right inside of us. Feel the breath of life inside of you and know that nothing is impossible. Never put negative thoughts in your mind because it goes right to your body.”

Such great advice from a voice of experience. Science also tells us that regular physical activity is essential to healthy aging. And the good news is that it is never too late to start becoming more active. Some will choose a regular daily workout while others may need to just start moving more and sitting less. Of course, it is important to check with your doctor before beginning any significant course of exercise.

All older adults experience some degree of loss of physical fitness and function with age, but some experience this more than others. This diversity means that some seniors can run several miles, while others struggle to walk from the living room to the kitchen.

The good news is that research shows that physical activity can improve physical function in adults of any age, including those who are frail, overweight or obese. Promoting physical activity and reducing sedentary behavior for older adults is especially important because this population is the least physically active of any age group, and most older adults spend a significant proportion of their day being sedentary.

Being physically active has significant benefits for all older adults as it can play a key role in better overall health as well as preventing and managing some chronic diseases. Other benefits include a better perceived quality of life and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.

At Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. we encourage participants to move as much as possible. Activities such as group exercise and Tai Chi are enjoyed by many. Our Physical Therapy room is also always very active throughout the day, helping people regain or improve their mobility. There have been numerous participants who have come into the center without being able to walk at all, but through the assistance of the Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. medical team and physical therapists, they regained their mobility and were able to walk again. For those that have learned to walk again, it has been a new found source of freedom and amazement to them as well as their family members.

Minnie, a participant for almost ten years, is a great example of our active participants. In a recent talent show at the center, dressed in brightly colored 1970’s attire, she danced to a disco song complete with extended arm gestures and spin moves with her walker in tow. Her desire to be always in motion is an inspiration to many. It is not uncommon to see her scurrying down the hallways of the center or throughout the large day room. That’s just how she rolls. And she enjoys every minute of it.

To learn more about how Senior Care Partners P.A.C.E. can help you or a family member improve mobility and become more active during the aging process, please call 269-441-9319 or visit www.seniorcarepartnersmi.org.

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