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Active Aging Week (September)

The week of September 21-27th is active aging week. "Active aging is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance the quality of life as people age," (World Health Organization). It is important as one gets older to continue with everyday activities. One third of older adults do not get enough physical activity, (Partnership for Prevention). Although it may become increasingly difficult as one gets older to exercise, the importance does not go away. Activity could help delay or prevent the onset of disability or chronic diseases in the older population, (Creating Communities for Active Aging).

It is crucial for older adults to continue "participating in social, economic, cultural, spiritual, and civic activities," (PfP). As older people lose spouses and friends, looking forward to social activities, like exercise or a small gathering with friends is beneficial. Many older adults are not in the habit of physical activity. The National Council on Aging lists reasons for this as: older people feel physical activity is hard work, women where not allowed to participate in activity as activity was seen as being "unladylike" and for men, exercise is not something they would do related to exercise used to be seen as something which the lower class was involved in. "There was a clear distinction between laborers and gentlemen" (National Council on Aging).

An exercise program can be started at any age. The older a person gets, the harder it is to start. Routines and daily schedules need to incorporate physical activity. Many people don't realize that each adult needs at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Physical activity can be broken up throughout the day. An example would be to play a twenty minute game of tennis in the morning and take a ten minute walk with the dog at night. The goal is for the total to be 30 minutes or more of activity each day of the week. (American Heart Lung and Blood Institute)

Stereotypes exist for older people, seen as being frail and fragile. Some older people fear getting injured or being looked at during physical activity. Living an active life not only involves physical activity, but it also gives the older person an opportunity to join a local club or organization, helping them to stay active and connect with a social atmosphere. Many Senior Centers exist in our area and can be reached through our local Office on Aging. Older individuals can continue to go to the activities which they enjoyed during middle age such as book clubs, newcomers clubs, bowling clubs, and whatever other clubs. The later years of life can be the best with joys like grandchildren and retirement. Many older people volunteer with their new found time. "Research clearly shows that actively engaged individuals are likely to remain mentally and physically stimulated and, as a result, enjoy a better quality of life," (AoA.gov).

Information provided by Brittany Burke Intern working with Dana Breeding, RN Health Educator from Community Wellness, at Augusta Health. To contact Dana H. Breeding RN related to the above information, please call (540) 332-4988) or ((540) 932-4988.