National Senior Health and Fitness Day: Stay healthy at any age with type 2

National Senior Health & Fitness Day® is the nation’s largest older adult health and wellness event, now entering its 28th year. More than 100,000 seniors will participate in local health and wellness events at 1,000+ locations across the country. You can find local organizations including hospitals, parks, community centers and churches all around the country providing events and resources for seniors the last Wednesday of May and October each year. 

The goal for this day is to keep senior Americans healthy! says, “The goals of National Senior Health & Fitness Day are to promote the importance of regular physical activity, and to show what local organizations are doing to improve the health of older adults in their communities.”

Types of event activities held every year include mini-health fairs, exercise demonstrations, health presentations, screenings and fitness walks. Based on last year’s event experience during the COVID-19 crisis, there are a variety of virtual health and wellness activity ideas available to local groups that register this year.  

But what if you can’t find a local activity for health and fitness day or prefer to celebrate independently? As you age your metabolism slows, physical activity decreases and your body needs more of certain things. Because of this, there are a few habits you should adapt to continue living a healthy lifestyle. Here are some prime pointers for you and everyone celebrating national senior health and fitness day!

Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is the first habit you should adapt to continue living a healthy lifestyle. Portions, the amount of water you drink, and the kinds of foods you eat can make a positive impact on living healthy at any age.  As you become older, the foods and drinks that make up a healthy diet for you may be slightly different from when you were younger.

Ensuring that you stick to correct portion sizes will reduce the likelihood of becoming or staying overweight. For example, when you go out to restaurants, usually portions for dinner are realistically enough food for two or three meals.  Try splitting an entrée in half or asking the waiter to box half of the meal to-go and plate half before it even comes to your table. In addition to how much you eat, you should be eating a healthy variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean unprocessed protein and healthy fats to maintain a healthy diet. 

Make sure you get your vitamins and minerals. If you eat less or have digestive issues, you may be deficient in some important vitamins and minerals. Some people choose to take supplements as they get older if there is a deficiency. While supplements can be beneficial, they can't replicate all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Therefore, always choose a variety of foods from the five food groups. 

As you age it is also recommended to focus on certain areas of the body such as your bone health. It is recommended for seniors to support their bone health by including sufficient amounts of Vitamin D and Calcium. These will help maintain bone density and strength. It is recommended to find foods that have them naturally verse taking supplements. Such as eating leafy greens, low fat dairy products or certain types of fish. Spending 10-30 minutes in the sunshine each day (Vitamin D) on a walk or in the garden will naturally give you the Vitamin D to support strong and healthy bones! Just don’t forget your sunscreen, plenty of water and a hat. 

Regular Exercise 

Regular exercise is necessary to overall health at any age, especially for those with type 2. Research shows that, “At least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity...The guidelines suggest that you spread this exercise throughout the week. Examples include running, walking or swimming. Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefits. Strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Examples include lifting free weights, using weight machines or doing body-weight training,” reports the Mayo Clinic

Exercising to enhance overall wellness

The positive social and emotional effects of regular exercise are prominent, especially as you age! Exercise gives you more energy, improves brain function and regulates your sleep. Additionally, as we age it is more important than ever to continue investing time in thriving relationships. Exercising regularly can be a perfect social activity for you to engage in throughout the week. Look for classes such as water aerobics, gentle yoga (such as chair yoga), a resistance band / strength training class, or even walking in the park three times a week with a friend.

Exercising to improve balance. 

Falling down is a much bigger deal for older adults than younger ones. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is admitted to an emergency room for a fall-related injury, and every 19 minutes, a senior dies from a fall, according to the National Council of Aging. Though no two falls are alike, and preventing falls is very complex, regular exercise reduces the likelihood of falling by 23%.

Exercises like the following should probably be avoided if you’re over the age of 65:

  • Squats with dumbbells or weights
  • Bench press
  • Leg press
  • Long-distance running
  • Abdominal crunches
  • Upright row
  • Deadlift
  • High-intensity interval training
  • Rock climbing
  • Power clean

A list of exercises that improve balance safely and can be done anywhere include:

  • Single limb stance
  • Walking heel to toe
  • Wall Push Ups
  • Toe lifts
  • Marching in place
  • Shoulder rolls
  • Back leg raises

For more information on healthy living and controlling and treating diabetes as a senior, join our free diabetes support group: Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together. Whatever your health goals may be, get out there on Wednesday, May 27th for National Senior Health and Fitness Day with the key goals of sharing some healthy food and enjoying fitness together!