Guerrero: The benefits of staying active in your golden years

As we approach the golden years, active aging should be top of mind. It allows seniors to engage in the potential for physical, social, and mental well-being well after retirement or moving into a senior living community.

Active aging doesn’t necessarily mean only being in physical shape but also being aware of the opportunities for mental health care whether that be through regular meditation, a mindful hike or quality conversation. It’s important to encourage and reassure seniors that they can remain active during their golden years.

Seniors continue to make important contributions to society as they age, as family members, volunteers and even as active participants in the workforce. Placing focus on their healthcare is vital so they can continue to lead active lifestyles.

According to the American Council on Exercise, moderate-intensity physical activity can help you live longer, reduce health problems and maintain your independence. Over the years our bodies take on quite a lot physically and mentally, so it’s important to help our loved ones kick their bodies into gear in all areas of wellness. Encouraging them to join a walking group or swimming class can help them build up their strength, balance, and endurance. Most senior living communities offer exercise programs that are designed to help residents in these areas and keep them in their best shape.

Brain exercise is also important for a senior’s overall health and well being. A challenged brain is a happy brain and a happy brain performs better. Seniors often find themselves struggling to stay engaged as they retire from their jobs, realize their kids have grown and live their own lives, and there are less social activities to fill their schedules.

This can sometimes lead to depression so it is best for seniors to take a proactive approach to staying socially active and mentally engaged. Medical research shows that brain exercises and mental stimulation can delay memory loss and dementia.

Most exercises benefit both body and mind. Anytime you’re moving, you’re boosting your mental and physical health. Seniors should make a conscious effort to regularly exercise as part of their health regimen. They can also benefit from the variety of classes offered at many senior living communities – whether they like cooking and crafts or computer and book clubs – to keep the mind active.

Scheduling visits with family and friends is also a great way to stay socially stimulated. On days’ seniors are unable to step outside, they should plug in and catch up with loved ones through phone and video calls.

Finally, there’s nothing like engaging in activities outside of a senior living community. Taking classes at the local community college or visiting the senior center can help get the juices flowing and stimulate interesting conversations.

The senior years can be the best years of a person’s life.  By staying mentally and physically fit, seniors can fully enjoy their twilight years, using extra free time to live life to the fullest.

Araceli Guerrero is the WESTfitness Instructor at McDowell Village, a senior living community in South Scottsdale that offers senior independent and assisted living. Prior to obtaining her Personal Training Certification, Araceli served as a Resident Services Attendant, then WESTfitness Coordinator.

 

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