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When it comes to fitness, they say if you don’t use it, you lose it. But for many seniors, the focus may first be on getting “it” back, rather than simply staying fit. A focus on health can also help improve their quality of life.
“When it comes to fitness, it is usually about change; and most people attempt to change too much too quickly,” said Dr. Roger Landry, a preventive medicine physician who strives to help Americans age successfully. “They approach fitness as a big ‘New Year’s resolution’ type of change and this is consistently unsuccessful.”
Instead, Dr. Landry said people – no matter their age – should focus on making small changes working towards the wellness goals they hope to achieve.
“Ask yourself, what is the smallest thing I can do to start working towards my health today,” he said. It can be something as simple as passing on that afternoon sugar fix, or something more unique, such as standing or even marching in place during television commercials.
“We all tend to want to give up if it feels like too much to take on,” he said. “What’s most important is to believe that you can change. Small steps will make that change happen, and stick.”
Fitness guru Carmine Arpaia, Peconic Landing’s lead trainer, works with members helping them to improve strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health. He develops individual fitness plans based on the person’s ability and commitment to getting fit.
“I design a plan to fit your lifestyle, depending on how much, or how little activity you are interested in,” he said.
It could include hitting the gym, attending fitness classes, playing a round of golf or simply taking your dog out for an extra walk each day. His focus, he explains, is on injury prevention.
Many of the exercises Carmine incorporates are aimed at improving posture and strength, as these are the major factors affecting balance and stability. Having good balance helps to keep a person’s risk of injury at a minimum. There are a number of options for people in the local community to get moving, and keep them safe and active.
Southold Town offers senior fitness classes free of charge at the town Recreations Center, as well as popular classes such as yoga for a nominal fee. Class offerings change each season, so be sure to look at the recreation department calendar on the town’s website.
Eastern Long Island Hospital has also recently started offering what’s known as the Silver Sneakers program, which is funded by Medicare. It essentially offers Medicare beneficiaries a free gym membership at participating locations including ELIH Physical Therapy and Fitness Center in Southold. Visit the program website to learn more.
“My advice would be to take what I call the 15-minute challenge,” Carmine said. “Attend an exercise class for just 15 minutes.”
After 15 minutes, people tend to start feeling good, he explained. Within 15-minutes, a person’s breathing and heart rate begins to even out as their blood gets flowing, and their body starts to produce endorphins.
“What I’ve found is that after 15 minutes, nobody wants to leave,” he said. “Who knows, that 15 minutes could end up keeping you healthy for the next 15 years.”
Be sure to visit us next month for the next post in Peconic Landing’s community education series about retirement: Understanding Long Term Care Planning