It’s never too late
One thing fitness trainer Georgia Brown hates to hear is that it’s too late to start exercising.
“It’s never too late to get back into exercising,” said Brown, who works at the South Yuba Club in Nevada City. “People in their senior age are seeking something to enhance their function and daily activity. Some of them just want to put on their nylons again or pick up their grandchildren.”
Which is exactly the point of exercise for many seniors.
“It doesn’t mean you have to be a size four or six,” said Angelina Calafiore of Curves in Nevada City. “Fitness isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. The face of fitness is changing because we’re realizing more of the health benefits versus the vanity. It’s about being fit inside.”
Two women who work out at Curves started for purely practical reasons.
Dorothy Leighton, 75, of western Nevada County had a stroke that caused her to be weak.
“My left leg wasn’t supporting me and I’d fall,” Leighton said. Her family talked her into exercise. “I’m pretty good now,” with no more falls, “and I’ve lost body fat,” Leighton said. “I’d be happy losing 10 pounds and in love with 20.”
After just one month of working out one-half hour, three times a week, Leighton has no aches or pains. On days off from the gym, she walks with her husband.
In Nov. 2004, Anita Wald-Tuttle, a 78-year-old western Nevada County resident, simply wanted enough strength to push her now-deceased husband, Bill, around in his wheelchair. She also had the first signs of osteoporosis.
She’s been working out at Curves ever since, “and my underarms aren’t as floppy as they had been,” she said. “You lose that upper arm when you’re not carrying babies on your hip.”
The workouts get Wald-Tuttle out of the house, “and it’s gotten to be pretty much a habit by now, and it should be.”
On the Mayo Clinic’s Web site, under senior health and exercise, the first paragraph summarizes the need to continue exercising as you age.
“Exercise is probably the single most important thing you can do to age successfully,” the site states. “The benefits are seemingly endless and can include weight control, improved circulation of blood and oxygen, increased muscle mass, better mood and improved balance.”
The Mayo Clinic suggests seniors start slowly, and stop immediately if there is any discomfort whatsoever. The no pain, no gain edict does not apply here.
Choose an exercise you enjoy and try for 30 minutes a day, the clinic suggests. Those minutes can be broken up into three 10-minute walks if need be.
Getting exercise also doesn’t always mean a structured environment either, the clinic said. Raking the leaves, washing the car and vacuuming the house are all good exercises.
When those get hard to do, guys like B.J. Fulmer can help.
“I have an 80-year-old guy and when he came in, he couldn’t get off the floor,” said Fulmer, a personal trainer at Courthouse Athletic Club in Grass Valley. “We said ‘Forget the muscle thing, let’s get you off the floor,’ so we did and he’s still exercising.”
Balance is a big deal for seniors who don’t want to fall, Fulmer said, so he teaches seniors how to balance on one leg.
“You have to have the muscle in one leg to stand on it,” Fulmer said. “It’s not equilibrium. I want your body to be healthy; the looks stuff will come.”
Brown, at South Yuba Club, contends that seniors who exercise sleep better, are less depressed, have a social outlet, control their cholesterol and store sugar in their muscles, thereby averting diabetes.
“It’s taking control of your own health before you get a disease and have to depend on medical care to fix it,” Brown said. “The functional and emotional aspects of exercise are attractive to those reaching older age.”
To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4237.
Seniors exercise Web sites
• Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com
• American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, http://www.aaos.org
• National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, win.niddk.nih.gov/ publications/young_heart.htm
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