Recommendations Will Benefit Seniors’ Health and Well Being
DALLAS, May 18, 2005 – With the 12 th Annual National Senior Health & Fitness Day taking place Wednesday, May 25, and the 10 th National Summer Senior Games (also know as the “Senior Olympics”) kicking off June 3 in Pittsburgh, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) salutes active seniors across the country as role models, and offers sedentary adults tips on how to jump start their lives with easy-to-follow safe exercises. “You do not need access to expensive equipment to participate in activities that will benefit your health and well-being,” says Terri Angelo, MA, ATC, Rehab Services Department, Summa Health System, in Akron, Ohio. “Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) offer valuable information. Seniors should seek out their guidance on which exercises would be the most beneficial to them without risking injury or aggravating a pre-existing condition.” National Senior Health & Fitness Day, according to Angelo, is a great time to get started. “The goal of Senior Day is to help keep older Americans healthy and fit,” she says. More than 1,000 local organizations in all 50 states, including the American Senior Fitness Association, host activities based on the interests of the older adults in their communities, including fitness walks, low-impact exercises and workshops. Many seniors who are already physically active will be competing at the Senior Olympics June 3 to 18 in Pittsburgh. Competitions will be held at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University as well as Schenley Park and North Park. Coordinated by the National Senior Games Association, a not-for-profit organization, the first Summer Games were held in St. Louis in 1987, where 2,500 adults took part. At the 2005 games, 10,413 men and women, age 50+, will participate, representing all 50 states and seven countries, including Canada, Mexico and the Ukraine. They will face off in 18 sports, including archery, basketball, racquetball, swimming, tennis and track and field. The oldest contenders include a 103-year-old bowler and a 101-year-old table tennis player. “The Senior Olympics are very important because they encourage active adults to combine their enjoyment of physical activity and thirst for competition among those in their own age groups,” says Kent Biggerstaff, ATC, director of competition and venues with the Pittsburgh local organizing committee, which will oversee the event. “We are living longer than ever before and this competition emphasizes the importance of active lifestyles through education and sport.” For seniors not yet ready to “go for the gold,” there are stretches they can do at home which will help improve the quality of their lives. Most importantly, Angelo suggests consulting their physician before beginning any exercise regimen. With regard to stretching, she recommends doing them two to three times a day on the following key muscle groups:
- The hamstrings. Exercise tip: sit on your bed with one leg outstretched on the bed, and the other leg on the floor. Lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch in the back of the thigh that is on the bed and hold this position. Repeat two times/leg.
- The calves. Exercise tip: stand facing a wall with hands on the wall. Keep your feet flat on the ground, but stand pigeon-toed. Lean toward the wall, keeping your body straight and in line, until you feel a stretch in the calves and hold this position. Repeat two times.
- The low back and hip muscles. Exercise tip: sit in a chair and try to pull your right knee toward your left shoulder until you feel a stretch in the center of your right buttock. Hold this position and then repeat using opposite leg.
- The chest muscles. Exercise tip: stand facing a corner in your house with one hand on each adjoining wall. Lean toward the corner until you feel the stretch across your chest and hold this position. Repeat 2 times.
“Every stretch should be held for 30 to 60 seconds and repeated at least two times per body part,” says Angelo. “Stretching should never hurt. You should feel good after doing it if you did it correctly. Work on strengthening your muscles to support good posture.” She also recommends the following mobility exercises:
- When sitting, move your legs back and forth and/or add weight in an old handbag looped around your ankle to strengthen your thigh muscles while doing so.
- Lay face down on your bed. Lift your upper body up toward the ceiling as far as it is comfortable to do so, then lay back down on the bed. Do 5 to 10 repetitions.
- Stand with your back against the wall and pull in your tummy to try to move your belly button toward the wall. Raise your chin up and toward the wall to straighten your neck, trying to be as tall as you can be while pulling your shoulders down and back toward the wall.
- Stand at your kitchen sink holding on the counter and squat as if you are going to sit down into a chair behind you. Then stand back up and repeat this 5 to 10 times.
For more information about National Senior Health & Fitness Day, visit www.fitnessday.com/senior/index.htm. For more information about the American Senior Fitness Association, visit www.seniorfitness.net. For more information about the National Summer Senior Games, visit www.nsga.com. About the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA): Certified athletic trainers (ATCs) are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses that occur to athletes and the physically active. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. NATA is designated as a Presidential Partner in May to Get America Moving, an initiative of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. In addition, NATA joins numerous health care and fitness organizations in recognizing May as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. This year’s theme is “Empowering Americans to live stronger, longer.” www.nata.org. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax).