Being in my late 40s, I find it takes more effort and motivation to be physically active. Perhaps you are experiencing the same challenge regardless of your age. But, being physically active is important and beneficial at any age.
As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a single bout of moderate-to vigorous physical activity provides immediate benefits for your health including: Sleep– Improves sleep quality; Less Anxiety– Reduces feelings of anxiety; Blood Pressure– Reduces blood pressure. Regular physical activity provides important health benefits for chronic disease prevention. Long-term benefits include: Brain Health– Reduces risks of developing dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) and reduces risk of depression; Heart Health– Lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes; Cancer Prevention-Lowers risk of eight cancers: bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach; Healthy Weight– Reduces risk of weight gain; Bone Strength – Improves bone health; Balance and Coordination– Reduces risks of falls. Being physically active makes it easier to perform activities of daily living, including eating, bathing, toileting, dressing, getting into or out of a bed or chair, and moving around the house or neighborhood. Physically active older adults are less likely to experience falls, and if they do fall, they are less likely to be seriously injured. Physical activity also can preserve physical function and mobility, which may help maintain independence longer and delay the onset of major disability.
If you currently are not physically active, it is never too late to start. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at all. Remember to consult your physician before starting any type of physical activity. Older adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Older adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity gain some health benefits. Your health benefits will increase with the more physical activity that you do. Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely. When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
What can you do to increase your level of physical activity? Walking, hiking, dancing, swimming, water aerobics, jogging, running, aerobic exercise classes, yoga, bicycle riding, yard work, playing sports like tennis or basketball, strengthening exercises using exercise bands, weight machines or hand-held weights, pushups, pullups, squats or lunges, gardening, carrying groceries and tai chi are just a few examples.
How can you be physically active in Meigs County? The Meigs County Health Department’s Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) Program makes the healthy choice the easy choice for residents and visitors. Throughout the years and around the County, thousands of dollars in grant funding have been invested. All CHC projects are suggested by community coalition members. Just a few examples of completed projects include enhanced playgrounds (including but not limited to the Angela Eason Memorial Park, Star Mill Park, Water Works Park, Mechanic Street Park and ballfield in Syracuse) via the installation of inclusive, accessible equipment for all ages and abilities. The program has constructed or rehabilitated walking paths as well as the public basketball court along Main Street in Pomeroy in addition to resurfacing the tennis court and assisting with construction of the Splash Pad at the General Hartinger Park in Middleport. CHC implemented the free Book A Bike Program with the Meigs Public Library system and is responsible for the establishment of the Meigs County Farmers Market. CHC coordinated the County’s Active Transportation Plan to make walking or biking to work or school safer. CHC has provided for the establishment of community gardens as well as for planting of fruit and nut trees in the publicly-accessible Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District Area outside Rutland.
CHC activities planned for 2022 include, but are not limited to, installation of three water bottle filling stations to increase the use of hiking trails within Forked Run State Park; implementation of a paved right of way leading into the General Hartinger Park in Middleport and resurfacing the Chester United Methodist Church’s basketball court for public use.
Overall, evidence shows that regular physical activity provides important health benefits for people of all ages and abilities. Remember establishing a fitness routine and achieving your health goal(s) are marathons not sprints. Results will come as you remain consistent and persistent in your dedication and efforts to improve your physical and mental well-being.
Meigs County Health Department is available to assist you. Please call 740-992-6626 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. or visit www.meigs-health.com for more information.
Courtney C. Midkiff, BSC, is Administrator for the Meigs County Health Department.