Creative Eldering: Move it and Preserve it

~ By Susan L. Levy, D.C. ~

Have you noticed that when you are physically active your mood and overall feelings are generally more positive and upbeat?

An incredible amount of research over the years has repeatedly demonstrated daily exercise provides mental benefits in addition to physical. While exercising, the human brain releases neurotransmitters including, mood boosting hormones called serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. These hormones also play a role in minimizing our perception of physical pain and they help our bodies to feel healthy and well. Our brains also release a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. These proteins are reparative to our memory neurons and our brain tissues. When our cognitive abilities are enhanced by exercise, we feel better and can more fully enjoy our lives. In fact, research shows that exercise is the most effective preventative measure for depression and it is also one of the most effective treatments.

While we may not have the ability to run marathons or hike to the highest peaks, many of us are still quite capable of participating in some form of physical activity and reaping the benifits. Walking through your local park or around your neighborhood each afternoon is one simple measure you can use to get daily exercise. Studies show that regular exercise can help ward off or minimize osteoporosis and bone loss while increasing muscle mass and balance. Many of these same studies also demonstrate that people participating in regular, moderate exercise (3-5 times per week or more) can experience both the physical and mental benefits of routine movement. There are many physical activities suitable for seniors.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogeneis (NEAT) is an idea coined by Dr. James A. Levine, that promotes “purposeful movement throughout each day” (Your Aging Body Can Talk, 36). NEAT can help users to incorporate simple changes such as walking to the store rather than driving, or working in a garden during your “free” time rather than sitting and watching television. Other senior friendly beneficial exercise regimens come to us from the East. Tai Chi originated in medieval China and Yoga came to the West from ancient India. These movement disciplines incorporate both physical exercise and meditation. Taking a Tai Chi or Yoga class at your local recreation center can offer the physical and emotional benefits we have already considered. Classes of this sort can also enhance your social life and encourage you to make new friends. Essentrics, another wonderful movement methodology, is based on whole-body stretching that can increase flexibility and decrease your risk of falling. Your local public television station or recreation center may also offer classes based on the Essentrics technique developed by Miranda Esmonde-White. Always consult with your healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise regimen.

Move It and Preserve It, Basics
from page 48 in Your Aging Body Can Talk

1. Minimize being sedentary, lessen your sitting time (if your physical condition allows)

2. Incorporate more physical activity and purposeful movement into your daily life within your home, apartment or office.

3. Explore a type of movement or stretching discipline that you can do simply at home. Great examples include Essentrics, yoga, and Tai Chi.

4. Continue or add enjoyable exercise or sports activities which you tolerate well.

5. Continue or begin chiropractic treatment to help with flexibility and health optimization.

Until my next article that will focus on healthful eating and nutrition, I wish you all an active and enjoyable spring.

Susan L. Levy, D.C. Author of “Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition” and “Your Aging Body Can Talk”

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