Washington State Senior Games

Benefits of Fitness

Fountain of Youth Discovered!!!

By Diana T. Yu, MD, MSPH
April 4, 2013

Have you found your fountain of youth?

The more you can exercise and stay fit, the better your health outcome.

Scientists have found that staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. For example, studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems, or difficulty walking.

Regular, moderate physical activity can help manage stress and improve your mood. And, being active on a regular basis may help reduce feelings of depression. Studies also suggest that exercise can improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information.

Well, I believe I have! Regardless of where you are starting from, increasing your ability to stay physically active is important to maintaining your “youth.” I take it as a complement when people think I am younger than I am (not just because I’m goofy.) Combine that with my being “young at heart” I feel like I can be young forever.

Well, there are parts of me that beg to differ, my knees, for instance. The many years of carrying an extra load of weight and pounding the pavement has taken its toll. For other folks it is their arms, or their back that seem to bother them most. After a good sit down discussion with your health care provider, you can come to an agreement on what you can do to strengthen your weaknesses and adapt exercises to keep you as fit as possible. Modifying exercises to your ability is important to prevent further injuries.

Now if you have not yet started to have aches and pains, this is a great time to exercise properly to prevent injuries that may lead to chronic disability. Building strength, endurance and flexibility will be beneficial. The more you can exercise and stay fit, the better your health outcome.

Already using a walker or wheelchair, having trouble with your balance? This should not stop you from being more active. Do you start to wiggle or two-step when you hear music? Many modified exercise programs for older seniors take folks who need to be seated through good exercises you can do while sitting in a chair. So long as it gets your heart pumping harder than usual, you are getting some benefit from it. Always check with your doctor to make sure exercise is something they would prescribe for you. Folks who have trouble with balance or standing may benefit from swimming, or using a stationary bike.

No matter what you are interested in, if you want to try it, for sustained health benefits, there is some activity out there that will get your heart pumping and your lungs working harder for 30 minutes a day is all it takes to find your fountain of youth.

Diana T. Yu is a Board Member of the Washington State Senior Games.