Exercise Is a Leading Cause of Health
“According to the World Health Organization the greatest health risk for older adults is living an inactive life. Physical activity can prevent the onset of impairments that lead to an increased risk for falls.” – Finding Balance Canada
It could be said that exercise is one of the leading causes of health. It’s especially true for older adults. The old adage “use it or lose it” applies to everyone, but for older adults fitness can make all the difference should they slip and fall. Reyna Bruckner is a fitness and program coordinator at United Active Living. In this article, she discusses the importance of fall prevention, strength training and balance in an active lifestyle.
Movements we take for granted like walking, bending over or getting out of a chair can all be compromised if we don’t keep active. Our programs are designed by the residents and tailored to their specific interests.
My exercise classes use functional everyday movements that enable the participants to maintain independence and function in day-to-day tasks. Good posture is critical to good balance and a large part of each class is focused on maintaining an upright posture. Every class starts with a warm-up and then incorporates strength training, endurance exercises and balance techniques for a full-body workout. Strength and resistance training are so beneficial in building strong bones, helping arthritis and preventing osteoporosis. Balance exercises play a large roll in fall prevention. I am a firm believer that age has no boundaries. I get to see it every day with a group of older adults who are eager and enthusiastic to exercise with me week after week!
“I never miss an exercise class. I am always the first one in the room!” – resident Anne Hicklin
At United Active Living we develop the exercise classes using the philosophy of Professor Debra Rose at Fullerton University in California. This program focuses not only on strength and endurance but being aware that all of our senses play a huge role in balance, and providing unique exercises that utilize all of our senses. The exercises are designed to challenge and manipulate a participant’s environment to progressively challenge their capabilities.
“Maintaining balance and mobility is essential to aging successfully,” said Dr. Rose. “In addition to making it possible to perform basic activities of daily living, such as rising from a chair or climbing a flight of stairs, good balance forms the foundation on which a healthy, active lifestyle is built.”
Motivation is a huge part of starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Keeping participants motivated is very important. Our residents exercise using outlets that don’t seem like exercising – dance expression, swimming, yoga and walking clubs are all ways our residents stay active and healthy without engaging in typical exercise.
The exercise classes are always fun and exciting and we use different equipment each class to keep things interesting.
“I can now walk farther and longer without getting short of breath. The exercise classes really help.” – resident Douglas Rathwell
Fall prevention is always an underlying goal in all of our programs. Falling is not a normal part of aging and can be prevented with proper exercise, education and awareness. Even though fear of falling isn’t a medical condition, it is one of the major contributing factors of experiencing a fall. Providing education and fall prevention strategies decreases these fears and gives residents the confidence and resources they need to live happily without worry.
We have a close relationship with the nearby Mount Royal University (MRU). A couple of years ago, we began a walking program at their fitness facility. Since then the program has almost tripled in size and we now have a full busload of dedicated individuals taking part. Every resident is determined to beat their number of laps from the previous time. They are really challenging themselves to reach their full potential. Some residents use the swimming pool, others walk the track and some use the weight and cardio machines.
“I have noticed so many changes in my balance and confidence.” – resident Lil Tyler
Strangers and students will come up to the group and express their amazement. It’s very motivating for the students to see someone four times their age putting in so much effort at the gym. It’s wonderful to see both generations interacting together, all trying to achieve the same thing – a healthier self.
Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help!
United is changing the conversation around aging. From our innovative United Minds (memory care) program to professionally staffed art studios and extensive creative programming, our communities offer more than you might expect. If you have questions or topics you would like us to cover in future blogs, let us know.