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Go4Life: Start Up or Improve Your Exercise Routine

marathon-runners-1024x681Do you run? Walk? Bicycle? If you do, you’re part of the reason that Seattle consistently ranks in the top ten fittest cities. If you need some motivation to join the crowd the National Institute on Aging has launched an annual program called Go 4 Life. Go 4 Life promotes physical activity to improve quality of life for older adults. This isn’t just about urging couch potatoes to move this is a drive to bring exercise to everyone whether you have arthritis, live with dementia, suffer depression, experience low vision, or just feel too busy. Tap into the movement and improve your health— it’s Go 4 Life month!

If you’re unsure that you can exercise daily then by all means ask your doctor. Most often, though, exercise is safe and beneficial for mind and body.  You may be familiar with the physical rewards of exercise such as improved balance and endurance, stress relief, strength, and weight control but did you know that it’s the back bone of brain fitness? The mind/body coordination involved in exercising supports cognitive health.  The more complex the exercise the greater the benefit. Exercise also addresses mental health. It combats depression and promotes better sleep! Now, the old adage is “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but today’s medical science says 30 minutes of exercise is all you need to realize better health.  And, where all manner of drugs and programs are still trying to prevent Alzheimer’s, exercise turns out to be a key component in coping with and combating dementias.

walkersSeattle is a great city to live in if you need a class or social group to get started. You think we have Starbucks on every corner? Have you counted the yoga studios? We’ve got gyms, coaches, and community centers. We’re home to a Feldenkrais institute, REI, and our city owned 204 athletic fields, 151 outdoor tennis courts, 3 golf courses, more than 60 basketball courts. We have mountains and mountaineering groups, water and sailing classes. If you’ve been reading our calendar you know that senior centers offer fitness classes that include yoga, Laughter Yoga, Tai Chi, and Zumba. Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Lifelong Recreation and progressive Dementia Friendly programming both promote exercise with walking programs like “Out and About” for Early Stage Dementia and “Sound Steps” for anyone over 50 years of age. See the City of Seattle for several other walking programs for older adults. Both Enhance Fitness,  an award winning program for older adult wellness, developed here  in Seattle through a collaboration between Senior Services, Group Health, and the University of Washington and Minds In Motion, an 11 week program promoting physical and cognitive health for people with early stage dementia, address all four components of exercise: balance, endurance, strength, and flexibility.  Are you getting all 4 into your exercise program?

Wondering if you can budget the time or money for a class? Don’t have transportation? If you’re reading this blog you have access to the internet and thousands of fabulous on line guided exercise videos.

Here are just a few:

Tai Chi basics in 4 short films from the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine


Seated Exercises from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Aging Resource Center


Go 4 Life Exercise Videos that cover all four components of exercise

Maybe you’ve just had an injury with  limited visits from a Physical Therapist and you struggle now to keep those exercises in your life to improve recovery. With A Little Help caregivers take walks with clients and enjoy exercising together. You don’t have to do it alone. In Seattle, resources to help you recover or strengthen your health abound.

Go 4 Life this month. Join a class or stop into your neighborhood senior center. Check out guided exercise online or get connected to a Seattle Parks and Recreation program. Hire a caregiver or coach to get you on track.  Join a gym or try something new like Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi or Feldenkrais. Use the momentum of September’s Go 4 Life push to build a healthy routine with all four exercise components as you head into the winter months. Move your body and enjoy rewards in cognitive health and physical wellness. Go 4 Life today.

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