It is no secret that physical activity improves overall health. Cardiovascular endurance, physical strength, and flexibility are the most well-known benefits surrounding physical fitness, however there are hundreds of less notorious advantages including improved mood, the prevention of cognitive decline, the reduced risk of colon cancer, the reduced risk of arthritis, etc. It seems that every time a new study is released the list of benefits grows larger!
Unfortunately, despite all of the obvious advantages, the exploding aging population has yet to fully embrace physical fitness. According to Evergreen Rehab, the Surgeon General's Office recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a day to reap any of exercise's associated benefits. Senior citizens, however, only spend an average time of 17 minutes a day exercising, while watching TV an average of 4.3 hours a day.
So why are seniors neglecting the gym? David Jacobs, co-owner of Level 3 Fitness, has over 20 years of experience in personal training and believes he knows the answer. “I believe the thing that is missing in senior fitness is a big dose of motivation. The seniors that I come in contact with daily really seem like they are doomed to this outcome of having knee pain or back pain or they can’t do what they used to do, and I believe that is totally incorrect. I’ve seen countless seniors remove those negative stimuluses’ out of their lives and continue trucking on the things that they love to do, even adding to things they love to do.”
Whether you are a boomer recovering from a sports injury, or a senior who lives alone and wants to maintain long-term independence, or even a resident at a nursing home who is terrified that you may fall again, incorporating exercise into your daily life is the key to physical and emotional freedom. “The attitude cannot be that you are going to get worse,” David states with conviction. “If you wake up every day and continue to be aware of you posture and try and do things that are healthy from drinking water to eating nutritious food to getting regular exercise, then I don’t think there is a ceiling on how fit a senior can get. There is a reason we have 90 year olds in here carrying 40 pound kettle bells. It’s because they want it. They want to carry their groceries by themselves, they want to shovel their sidewalk by themselves…and age has nothing to do with it.”
If simply improving overall health isn’t motivation enough for seniors to start busting their hump in the gym, then consider the financial implications. It is estimated that those over 65 years of age who are obese will spend an average of 39,000 more on healthcare every year compared to a non-obese senior. You might be thinking, that can’t be right? But once you start adding up the healthcare costs associated with heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc., combined with the absurd amount is costs to receive assistance with activities of daily living, the bill gets pretty high. That’s not even factoring the billions of dollars spent every year on fall related injuries that lead to an emergency room visit.
Whether you just qualified for your senior discount at the movie theater or are 75, 85, or even reaching the millennium milestone, it is never too late to start working out! The first step is yours to take. Your mind, body, and pocketbook will thank you later!
Special thanks to David Jacobs with Level 3 Fitness. Article and Video composed by Alex Milzer with Senior Directory.