A Letter From the Old Folks Home:
The blog is about living life after 70 with joy, resilience, and purpose. A Letter from the Old Folks Home is a source of positive, helpful advice encouraging people to set and achieve goals and find joy in life. The blog will cover personal experiences and thoughts and concerns. Topics of blogs will include health, retirement, fashion, travel, and living in continuing care retirement communities. The blogs will be short and appear once a month on my website www.nadineblock.com or by email if you choose (see the contact form on this website). Come walk with me.
A Letter From the Old Folks’ Home: Keeping Physically Fit
“Keep moving! If you don’t, they will plant you.” By Sarah Ludwig (Mom)
My mother lived to be 101 years old. She lived what she preached. She kept moving without a Fitbit and she never went to a gym. She never sat still and made sure no one else did either. We lived on a dairy farm. It was easy to keep everyone busy. I wrote about her in Remembering Rosie: Memories of a Wisconsin Farm Girl.
Like my mom, I keep busy. My goal is 8,000 steps a day six days a week. Over the holidays, I did some traveling to see family and have fallen off a bit. I am getting back into the routine. Many experts say walking at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week is best. Some experts recommend taking 7500 steps a day. I do resistance training for 25 minutes twice a week, and floor work (yoga, plank, and stretching) once or twice a week. I do a little balance work each day, mostly practicing standing on one leg at a time for 20 seconds.
What really motivates me to exercise is my fear of falling. My doctors always ask if I have fallen. I have answered affirmatively on a couple of occasions. I want to have strong legs and good balance.
Falls do not just happen. Scientists link several risk factors to falling, including muscle weakness, problems with balance, and blood pressure that drops too low when you get up from lying down or sitting. Foot problems that cause pain and unsafe footwear can cause falls.
Alcohol, some medicines that cause dizziness, poor eyesight, new glasses, and even hearing problems can lead to falls. I find walking on uneven sidewalks can be dangerous because I can easily trip.
I strengthen my muscles by doing resistance training. I had a personal trainer for six weeks in my retirement community gym. I learned to use the machines for strength. They are high tech, interactive machines called TechnoGym. We have fitness classes for balance, strength, and even a Parkinson’s program for those who need it. I walk carefully on uneven surfaces. I carry my iPhone and wear an alarm device in case I fall. I enrolled in Smart911 online. It can alert and provide medical information to local EMTs (even in other communities in the US when I travel) on the way to help me when they are called. I walk all year long even in winter. If it is raining, icy or snow covers the walk, or when it is too hot, I go to the gym to use the treadmill.
What can you do to prevent falls:
Stay physically active. Check with your doctor if you are limited in physical activity. Ask what you can do safely. Start slowly, such as walking a short distance and increasing the length of the walk.
Get your hearing and vision assessed regularly.
Get 7-8 hours of sleep.
Find out from your doctor or pharmacist if any of your medications might make you dizzy.
If you need a walker or cane, make sure it works well for you and use it.
If you get dizzy rising from a chair or the floor, stand up slowly.
Make sure your shoes are flat and support your feet.
Be careful of loose rugs, icy, wet, and uneven walks, and electric cords. Use rails to help you down steps.
It is a lot to remember. Most of all, remember Mom’s advice. ”Keep moving.”
It is never too late to start exercise.
How Older Adults Can Get Started With Exercise:
“You Can Start Exercising After Age 60—Here’s How”: Cleveland Clinic
“How Older Adults Can Get Started With Exercise”: National Institute on Aging