This paper explores published results and findings that include the older generation and the possibility of them using fitness for a better lifestyle. Aging is inevitable and a process that we will all go through at some point. In order to maintain an active and healthy life, active aging can be key factors due to physical activity and physical fitness. The research shown incorporates an older generation over sixty-five years of age that are still mobile and somewhat active in their daily routines but do not participate in a fitness program that could show positive results in muscle tone, strength, agility, flexibility, or endurance that could further their life, and have many other benefits. A decrease in the above mentioned can lead to difficulties in functioning normally and carrying out activities of daily living. As we get older, many things in life seem to get harder and we even notice some changes to how we used to feel and do certain things in our daily activities. If you ever spent any time in a retirement setting with your loved ones, you too will see the changes. But why do we seem to do less as we age? If you visit these retirement communities, you will see lots of fun activities for the older population like pools, shuffleboard, Ping-Pong tables, and many other activities that try to incorporate social and physical wellbeing but are never in use. Many older people even think that they are always tired, too old, sick, or just to out of shape to exercise. Some rarely leave their residence because they suffer from depression as they do not have family nearby and do not have a stable social outlet. Aging can result from a shift of independence to a more dependent lifestyle due to a decline in physical function and cognitive performance (Ramneth, Rauch, Lambert, & Kolbe-Alexander, 2018). Due to low birth rates and people living longer, the proportion of people aged over sixty years of age is growing faster than any other age group worldwide (NIH.gov, 2016). Challenges There are some challenges as to why older generations are not getting enough exercise. First, they are on a fixed income and think that they are not able to pay for gym memberships. This can be alleviated in a few ways. Some insurance groups will pay their gym membership. One other way is the local YMCA that is in almost every city and have very affordable rates no matter what your age is. As they are low on monetary funds, they may also be unable to pay for a fitness coach or personal trainer. They will want someone to show them what exercises to do as they may not be sure what exercises they can do or how a certain exercise can be done. Some may not want to exercise as they do have aches and pains and no not feel as though exercise is attainable through their discomfort. Some may also feel that exercise is impossible due to their medical conditions. If you have diabetes do you run a risk of becoming hypoglycemic? If you have a heart condition is it safe to exercise or will a coronary even be caused by an increase in fitness. No matter what your worry may be, their physician could answer their questions and relieve their worries. This also leads to the possibility of new injuries. As we age our balance is not what it used to be and have some functional decline. Now that they are at a higher risk for falls, a new injury and hip fracture are always in the back of their mind. Lastly is our social decline. As we age our social outlook with peers and others is at its lowest point in life. Older people are less likely to exercise alone and having a partner with similar goals would be optimal. Risk factors to improve Normal aging changes our body and its systems. Some of these changes include our cardiovascular, nervous system, musculoskeletal system, and other systems (Haripriya, 2018). With exercise we can improve our health on many levels. Although we have certain risk factors such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and the list go on. By improving one’s fitness, you can improve your health, lessen symptoms of a disease, or may even avoid them all together. Cardiorespiratory endurance will improve the heart with better blood and oxygen supply, stronger heart contractions, increased blood volume, and lower blood pressure (Fahey, 2001). This also reduces cardiovascular disease by maintaining healthy lipids, lowers inflammation, helps prevent diabetes and obesity by maintaining proper fat percentages (Fahey, 2001). None of the examples above is new news to most but a reminder may be order. Maybe the more important think to know is maybe what can older generations do to improve their health through fitness. Exercises A slow start to a better healthier is within reach. The American College of Sports Medicine calls for moderate intensity aerobic exercise a total of 150 minutes five days a week, that’s only thirty minutes a day for cardiovascular health (Baechle, 2010). As you progress and meet your goals, you can then increase intensity and /or duration for even more benefits to your health. Most people start off with a bit lower intensity or low impact type exercises. Some good examples would be walking, swimming, water aerobics, or even mild floor exercises like body weight leg raises or chair to toe stands. After you feel a bit more confident, you may increase your intensity to a faster or longer duration of the above exercises or do some aerobics or yoga. You will see results rather quickly as your body adapts then you may want to incorporate a bit more advanced resistance strength training such as Pilates or the machines and light weights at a gym. To keep yourself motivated, try some tools to track your progress. This can be a simple notebook to journal your routine or exercises. If your more tech savvy, you may track your progress and workouts with pedometers during your walking sessions, heart rate monitors you can wear on your chest or wrist to stay within a certain heart rate range, or even our phones and smartwatches can act at both a step counter and a heart rate monitor to track progress for you. Make it stick The most challenging part is to keep up with your new good habits for a better functional life. Try to find a walking community, there may be one in your area since the 2015 Surgeon General’s call to action promoted walking communities in many cities (Rich, 2017). Make a commitment to yourself. One good way is to make an easy self-contract that you will sign. This is a great way to motivate yourself. Some even make a contract with a friend to get a workout buddy. You are more likely to stick to a new lifestyle when two or more people count on another. Set small attainable goals. Large unattainable goals are harder to reach and take longer. This can make you more impatient with your progress and this will make it easier to give up. Start slowly as you may get sore and may even have some bad days. Be aware of your body as it will talk to you. If a certain exercise doesn’t feel right, don’t do it or get some help. Safety comes first. When you get in your daily exercise routine, be sure to reward yourself. You are now a better healthier person. By sticking to your new exercise plan. You have greatly decreased your mortality rate. Your balance will be improved and less likely to encounter an injury form a fall. You will sleep better, feel better, and have more self esteem as part of your increased cognitive benefits.
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