Myth Busting: Aging and Exercise

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slm10642Regardless of your age or your current physical condition, you can benefit from exercise. From those who are healthy to those who are managing an illness or an injury, exercising can help to align both physical and mental health. Physical activity does not have to require strenuous workouts to reap the benefits; you must simply add more movement to your life, even in small ways. Many feel that maybe they are too old to start or that exercising puts them at a higher risk for injury; however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t let a myth stand in your way of a happier, healthier life.

Myth: There’s no point in exercising. I’m going to get old anyway.

Fact: It’s true; you can’t stop the hands of time. However, growing older doesn’t mean your body has to gradually deteriorate. As a matter of fact, exercise could even reverse some of the common symptoms of aging. Regular exercise can help boost your energy, maintain your independence and manage symptoms of illness or pain, among other things. More than likely, there are exercise programs in your community that cater to your specific needs, providing an exciting path to successful aging.

Myth: I can’t get around like I used to. It’s dangerous for me to exercise.

Fact: According to the Arthritis Foundation, the number one cause of falls is poor balance. Programs such as Lutheran Sunset Ministries’ Empowerment Exercise Class can help older adults regain this ability with safe, individually-catered exercises. “Having taken the exercise classes, it’s increased my stability and my balance,” said Billye Dunnahoe, a senior resident of Clifton, Texas. “It’s certainly increased my strength. I can now reach the cabinet to get something high up, I’m able to lean over and tie my shoe and I can get on the floor and get up again with no assistance. It’s increased my flexibility amazingly.”

Myth: Exercise has nothing to do with mental health.

Fact: This is completely false. But don’t take our word for it. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center, in Durham N.C., studied 156 majorly depressed patients 50 and older and found that after 16 weeks, those who exercised showed significant improvement compared to those who either took medication alone or those who combined the therapies. According to their study, exercising three times a week could be more effective than medication in relieving the symptoms of major depression in elderly people and may also decrease the chances that the depression will return over time.

“About a year and a half ago I fell,” said Mrs. Dunnahoe. “I had also lost some people who were close to me, and I became very depressed. My kids said, ‘Mother, you need to exercise.’ So, for two months I exercised with Leah Miles, Sunset Ministries’ certified personal trainer, and it has changed my life. I’m feeling much better; I have more energy and really enjoy it.”

Myth: I’m disabled. I can’t exercise sitting down.

Fact: Disabilities simply mean that you are challenged to work around them. Even those confined to a chair can still complete stretches, weight exercises and motion exercises. Don’t let a disability prevent you from enjoying a longer, more fulfilling and gratifying life with an increase in your senior exercise routines.

Myth: There’s nothing intellectual, social or spiritual about exercising.

Fact: This could be true for some; however, Lutheran Sunset Ministries find a way to incorporate all three into their community exercise program. With each workout, instructor Leah Miles incorporates health and nutrition information into each session, furthering participant’s knowledge of their body and what it means to stay healthy. As far as the social aspect, participants have the chance to converse with other members of the class, sometimes creating new friends outside of class. To include the spiritual aspect, each class winds down with yoga inspired stretches, aroma therapy and neck massages – the perfect time to close your eyes, relax and maybe say a prayer or reflect on your day.

In spite of the myths, it’s never too late to start exercising. Being physically active can help you continue to do the things you enjoy and stay independent as you age. Regular physical activity over long periods of time can produce long-term health benefits – decreased risk of heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes and obesity, decreased symptoms of depression, improved sleep quality and increased energy, among others.

Fortunately, for those in and around Clifton, Texas, Lutheran Sunset Ministries offers an Empowerment Exercise Class on Tuesday and Thursday at 1604 W. 9th St. (next to Bella Veta Italian Restaurant), open to the community. The 10 a.m. classes are more advanced and the 11 a.m. classes are focused more on post-rehab individuals – the perfect place to continue your recovery. The classes are designed for the residents of Lutheran Sunset Ministries as well as members of the Clifton and surrounding communities. For more information on attending an upcoming class, please contact Leah Miles at 214.289.9623. Mrs. Miles will help assess your current physical needs and lead you on a path to successful aging.

Article by Andrea Hikel, Lutheran Sunset Ministries marketing and community relations director.


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