Health Info & Resources for Seniors
Exercise is effective in stalling or even reversing the body’s natural tendency to lose muscle cells and fiber as we age, says Gary Angstadt, exercise physiologist, St. Luke’s Health and Fitness Center.
Gary will be one of the speakers at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus Senior Expo on Saturday, June 11, a free event designed for people 60 and older. Call St. Luke’s InfoLink at 1-866-STLUKES (785-8537) for more information.
Physical decline as we age is not inevitable. By getting regular exercise, you will experience a whole host of benefits from reducing blood pressure, falls, aches and pains, to lowering your risk of having a stroke or developing diabetes.
Through exercise, especially weight and strength training, you can build muscle, strengthen bones and better manage your weight. Meanwhile, cardiovascular training will improve your breathing, heart function and circulation.
“Exercise is the key to thriving as we get older,” Gary says. “And it’s never too late or too early to start. To become fit, you have train regularly and increase the intensity level as you become stronger. I have guys in their 60s and 70s who just returned from hiking Mt. Ranier. They’re vibrant, happy, energetic and hiking some of the roughest trails in the country.” Mount Rainier is a glacier-capped, 14,410-ft.-high mountain outside of Seattle, Washington.
And, you don’t have to be in great shape to start an exercise program. However, if you have a health condition, Gary suggests that you exercise at a gym with qualified professionals who are knowledgeable in proper positioning and movement.
“You don’t want to go somewhere where they just hand you a towel and tell you to go work out,” he says. “You want to go where the trainers are well versed in different diseases and disabilities. All of the exercise trainers at St. Luke’s Health and Fitness Centers have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in fitness-related majors.”
Gary, who also works in St. Luke’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, has witnessed heart attack patients who were very weak when they first started. With regular workouts, however, they feel better and have more energy than several years before their heart attack.
The key to success is making it a priority, he said. Many older adults find it actually easier to commit to exercise regularly now that they have less demanding work responsibilities and are no longer raising children.
“It’s all about vitality,” he says. “We can’t always determine how long we live, but we can determine how much life we have in our lives.”