The benefits of exercise for improved wellness and healthy aging
By Meghann Finn Sepulveda
Regular physical activity is important at all stages of life. But it takes on increased importance for older adults who can reap many health benefits from regular exercise, even if it’s moderate. A variety of exercise, nutrition and wellness classes, along with a team of highly trained staff are available to help individuals meet their goals at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing.
It’s never too late
Some older adults believe they should limit exercise or shouldn’t exercise at all, but this is rarely the case. In fact, being physically active helps older adults maintain the ability to live independently, reduces the risk of falling, strengthens bones and can also improve mental health and delay dementia and cognitive decline, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Individuals can start an exercise plan at any age,” says Rhonda Zonoozi, an exercise physiologist and health coach at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing. “However, it’s important to check with a doctor first if there are any known medical conditions.”
Just three years ago, Sun City Grand resident and Sun Health at Home member Lee Roach began exercising. A health condition had prevented her from being physically active as a child and young adult.
Now, at 78, Lee is doing well and is able to exercise regularly. She has taken advantage of the wide-range of benefits available to Sun Health at Home members, including a health-risk assessment, nutrition review, fitness-plan development, exercise classes and more.
Lee was motivated to take charge of her health a few years ago after seeing a close friend, who was restricted to a wheelchair, suffer and eventually pass away from an illness complication. Lee, who is a Type 2 diabetic, also watched her grandparents and parents grapple with chronic illnesses as they grew older.
“I was determined not let anything get me down,” she says. “I want to be around for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
When she’s not walking at home, Lee does weight training and takes chair yoga classes at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing. She has also participated in the Center’s six-week diabetes self-management education series and the 12-week “‘Weigh’ to Go” weight-loss class.
Experts say that when you begin an exercise routine, it’s important to go slow, have realistic expectations and set achievable goals.
“If you were previously inactive, you can start by making a few small changes throughout the day, focus on what you enjoy doing and make those activities a priority,” Rhonda explains.
“Write down a specific action plan so you are more accountable and achieve success.”
Fitness consulting and custom exercise programs including Senior Fitness Test are available at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing.
“This dynamic and internationally-recognized program measures various elements of fitness, including balance, agility, strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance,” Rhonda says. “The results not only provide baseline fitness levels and identify areas of improvement, but also help individuals set goals and look back at their progress.”
Both Lee and her partner Jim Hale have benefited from the Senior Fitness Test, along with nutritional counseling as part of their Sun Health at Home membership, and made positive changes to their diet.
“We are eating much better and have greatly improved our overall health,” Lee says. “The support we received has been amazing.”
Reap the benefits
Experts say those who participate in regular physical activity will make progress and see results.
“The immediate benefits of physical activity can include better sleep, increased energy and improved mood,” Rhonda says. “Other health benefits will come over time, such as lower blood pressure and weight management.”
Lee, who has also recovered from three knee replacement surgeries and a broken back, says that exercise not only lessens her pain but it’s also helped lower her blood sugar levels.
“I’ve lost weight,” she says. “I feel so much younger, like I’m in my early 50s.”
Take advantage of available programs
Sun Health at Home members, like Lee, receive complimentary benefits at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing as part of their Sun Health at Home membership. However, the Center for Health & Wellbeing is open to the public and its services are available to anyone interested in improving their wellbeing (no membership required). Call 623-832-WELL (9355) to learn more.