12 Tips on How Older Adults can Become Active During Active Aging Week, September 20-26, 2010

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What better time than Active Aging Week, September 20-26, 2010, for older adults who are contemplating lifestyle changes to get started. To help these individuals become more active the International Council on Active Aging is providing the following twelve tips:

What better time than Active Aging Week, September 20-26, 2010, for older adults who are contemplating lifestyle changes to get started. To help these individuals become more active the International Council on Active Aging is providing the following tips:

1. Know your options
Before starting any program, examine your options. Pick a program you know you will enjoy. Some individuals like to go to a gym and do a structured workout, while others enjoy a neighborhood walking club. Either will help improve your fitness, ability to function and quality of life--but only if you do it regularly.

2. Determine your participation style
Would you prefer taking a class or going solo? Are you a morning or night person? Does indoor fitness appeal to you, or would you prefer to play outside? Could you dedicate large blocks of time to physical activity or could you fit only shorter, more frequent intervals into your schedule? Be realistic about how you participate.

3. Start slowly
Many people are eager to get started and sometimes overdo it, which usually makes them sore and can make them want to stop. A good way to start slowly is to discover your baseline. Record all your activities during each waking hour or for two- or three-hour time blocks, tracking how much time you are sedentary (e.g., sitting at your desk) or active (e.g., walking to the bus stop). At day's end, count how many hours you have and have not been physically active. Then look at when you could fit some short (e.g., 10 minutes) bouts of brisk walking into your day.

4. Make a date
Find a buddy to exercise with you and keep you motivated. Whether it's a friend to walk with in your neighborhood or a personal trainer in a gym, that appointment makes it more likely you'll do the walk or workout.

5. Set specific short- and long-term goals
Make goals as specific as possible. For example, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I will do a brisk, 10-minute walk in the morning before my shower, at lunch time and after dinner. Being specific means you are planning for activity in your day and making it a priority. Long-term goals are also important. Is there an activity you would like to do that you feel physically incapable of at the moment, but may be able to do with a little effort? Set a long-term goal to help you do it.

6. Make a list
List the benefits you expect from your physical activity program, then make sure these are realistic and reasonable. Many people expect enormous benefits, such as losing 30 pounds in a month. When these benefits don't materialize, they feel disappointed and relapse because they feel like they've failed. Try to make the benefits about things you can control, rather than an outcome (such as weight). Build your list of benefits as you increase your physical activity--you'll be surprised at how long your list becomes.

7. Invest in your health
Do you want to spend money on joining a program? Or would you prefer to develop a program you can do for little cost, using objects or props in your home or office? Both options are available.

8. Check out the facility you want to join
Does the facility feel friendly? Can you change clothes comfortably? If the facility has a pool, what is its water temperature? About 84-86°F is comfortable for moderate to vigorous activity, while warmer temperatures are nice for range-of-motion and relaxation programs. Does the pool or workout room have an easy and safe exit/entry? Ask to try various programs, so you can decide which program feels the most comfortable and fun.

9. Check out the staff
Are the people who work in the facility friendly and interested in you? Are they qualified to work with older adults? Do the staff members each have a college degree in health? Do they offer pre-exercise fitness assessments, with periodic updates? Are they interested in helping you learn how to modify exercises to fit your fitness level and conditions? Do they encourage social interaction? Talk to mature adults who currently participate in their programs to build a complete picture.

10. Join a class
Select an exercise class appropriate for your health status and ability. Check with your local YMCA, JCC, hospital-based fitness program, city recreation program or health club to view the course offerings. Visit the local arthritis foundation for a list of all aquatic and land-based classes designed for those with arthritis conditions.

11. Follow a well-rounded program
Include all five components of a successful program: warm-up, flexibility, cardio, resistance and cooldown.

12. Reward yourself and don’t quit
Once you've reached your goal, treat yourself to something that reminds you what a good job you've done and encourages you to continue. Most importantly, like brushing your teeth, make exercise part of your daily life.

About Active Aging Week
Website: http://www.icaa.cc/aaw.htm

Active Aging Week is an annual event held the last full week of September (prior to October 1, International Day of Older Persons). The week was initiated by the International Council of Active Aging to give as many older adults as possible the means to experience activities and exercise in a safe, friendly and fun atmosphere. During the week, host organizations provide a variety of free activities, such as classes, educational seminars, access to fitness facilities, health fairs and community walks.

Active Aging Week 2010 is sponsored by Aegis Therapies, the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, Thor•Lo, and MATRIX Fitness Systems.

About the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)

ICAA, a professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry, supports professionals who develop wellness facilities, programs and services for adults over 50. The association is focused on active aging—an approach to aging that helps older adults live life as fully as possible within all dimensions of wellness—and provides its members with education, information, resources and tools. As an active-aging educator and advocate, ICAA has advised numerous organizations and governmental bodies, including the US Administration on Aging, the National Institute on Aging (one of the US National Institutes of Health), the US Department of Health and Human Services, Canada’s Special Senate Committee on Aging, and the British Columbia ministries of Health, and Healthy Living and Sport.

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