Keep on Truckin’ - It’s an iconic image from a sixties artist. It means keep going with optimism. For us older adults it can be a mantra to help us keep our bodies in good enough shape to keep us active the rest of our lives. Types and levels of activity may change as we age, but if you don’t use it, you lose it. As Nike says, “Just Do It.”
Getting a moderate amount of exercise, on a regular basis, has been shown to increase our lifespan, improve our resistance to illness, help prevent dementia and diabetes, relieve stress, promote lower blood pressure, and help prevent depression. So why don’t we do it? We tell ourselves it’s too hard, I don’t have the time, it’s too expensive, and it’s embarrassing to be a newbie in a class or to workout with others. Walking is not expensive. Strength training can be done in a chair or supported by a chair. Nobody you’d care to know is going to ostracize you or laugh at you. Members and staff at fitness centers are very welcoming and supportive of newcomers. And remember, your health insurance may pay for all or part of fees for classes or membership at a fitness center!
What happens if you don’t take care of yourself? A friend’s wife slipped and fell on the ice. It could happen to anyone. But at age 70, after her broken ankle was repaired, she was forced to spend a month in a nursing home. Why? She lacked the upper body strength to walk with crutches.
Find something you enjoy doing. You’ll have fun and getting some exercise won’t be a project. You might even make some new friends! My son who never played hockey as a child now plays twice a week with a group that includes those in their sixties. Pickle ball is great for those whose legs can’t quite deal with a full tennis court. The community center and the Eden Prairie Senior Center offer many fitness activities that are geared to older adults.
Eden Prairie also has wonderful trails - give them a try on foot or on a bike. I’ve rediscovered biking after my knees said “perhaps you shouldn’t be jogging.” Find an exercise buddy to help keep you motivated. Dancing, gardening, bowling, swimming, yoga, T’ai Chi, house or yard work are just a few active choices. There are so many options! Take a class, exercise to a video or TV program, join your friends and/or make new friends walking in the mall. Get a dog and take her/him for a walk. Fresh air is good for both of you! If you golf, walk instead of riding a cart. Get in the habit of walking up and down stairs. Simple things can make a big difference. If you feel you don’t have time, you don’t have to exercise all at once. Ten to fifteen minutes of activity a couple of times a day can be just as effective as a single period of thirty minutes.
Although some body parts such as knees or hips can be replaced, you only get one body. If you take care of it, it will enable you to lead a full, independent life for as long as possible. Just remember to talk to your doctor before you start an exercise plan. Start easy, savor small successes and Keep on Truckin’ in 2017!
EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org