Clad in a turquoise jacket and bicycle pants and wearing a helmet, 90-year-old Gerald Hadduck can be seen riding on the trails adjacent to the 27-acre campus of Covenant Village of Colorado. On average, he rides 10-12 miles per day during the warm …
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Clad in a turquoise jacket and bicycle pants and wearing a helmet, 90-year-old Gerald Hadduck can be seen riding on the trails adjacent to the 27-acre campus of Covenant Village of Colorado. On average, he rides 10-12 miles per day during the warm weather months.
The avid bicyclist has lived at a senior living community in Westminster for 18 years, and daily physical activity is part of his plan to keep strong, flexible and healthy.
“Biking has kept me alive and healthy,” says Hadduck, who says he has no plans of slowing down.
On May 25, millions of older Americans across the country celebrated National Senior Health & Fitness Day, a day-long celebration to increase awareness of the benefits of a regular exercise program for older adults. This year’s theme is “Improve Your Health for a Better Self.”
This approach to health and wellness is something residents like Hadduck practice every day. Some, like Hadduck, still tackle the trails, but others incorporate exercise into their daily routines by taking walks, gardening, participating in a T’ai Chi, yoga or water aerobics class, or using the exercise machines at the fitness center.
“The key is to keep moving,” says Nicole Barabas, fitness coordinator at Covenant Village of Colorado. “You don’t have to run a marathon — unless you want to! — but you do need to participate in physical activity every day.”
Studies show 30 minutes of physical activity at least three days a week can help reduce the risk of major illness, such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Falls are a leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but many can be prevented by building strength and improving flexibility and balance.
Other benefits of daily exercise include better immune and cardiorespiratory function; improved bone density and reduced risk of osteoporosis; and more efficient gastrointestinal function. Exercising seniors sleep better, are less prone to anxiety and depression, and benefit from socializing with their peers during group exercise classes.
Studies also point to better brain health among seniors who exercise. University of British Columbia researchers report that regular aerobic exercise, “the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus,” the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.
The good news is that it’s never too late to start exercising, and it’s never too late to start reaping the health benefits. Here are some tips to help get you started:
* Check with your doctor to determine an exercise regime that’s best for you.
* Start with one class a week or take short daily walks and work yourself up to longer ones. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
* Find an exercise buddy to make exercise fun and keep each other accountable. * Check out the local YMCA, the city of Westminster website or the Senior Resources Guide for group exercise classes. Better yet, simply get outdoors, move, and breath in the fresh Colorado air.
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