Senior Connections Senior Connections Mar 2019 - Page 9

How exercise can help people of all ages FROM: GO4LIFE, FROM THE NATIONAL INSTITUE ON AGING AT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH Exercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active. In fact, in most cases you have more to lose by not being active. Here are just a few of the benefi ts. Exercise and physical activity can help: • Improve your ability to do the everyday things you want to do • Manage and improve diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis • Maintain and improve your physical strength and fi tness • Improve your balance • Reduce feelings of depression and may improve mood and overall well-being. How Much Physical Activity Do I Need? The goal is to achieve at least 150 minutes (2 1/2 hours) of moderate-intensity endurance activity a week. Being active at least three days a week is best, but doing anything is better than doing nothing at all. If you cannot do 150 minutes a week because of a health condition, do as much as your condition allows. Isn’t it better for older adults to “take it easy” and save their strength? Regular physical activity is very important to the health and abilities of older people. In fact, studies show that “taking it easy” is risky. For the most part, when older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it doesn’t happen just because they’ve aged. It’s usually because they’re not active. Lack of physi- cal activity also can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses. Staying active is important throughout life. Regu- lar exercise and physical activity help you stay strong and fi t enough to keep doing the things you enjoy. No matter what your age, you can fi nd activities that meet your fi tness level and needs. How Do I Stay Motivated? Success starts with YOU—how fi t and active you are now and how much effort you put into being ac- tive. Visit Go4Life motivation tools to help you fi ght off excuses, get motivated, and keep going. To gain the most benefi ts, enjoy all 4 types of exercise, stay safe while you exercise, and be sure to eat a healthy diet, too! Hypothermia: a cold weather challenge NIH off ers tips to keep older adults safe in winter weather FROM THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING (NIA) AT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH (NIH): As the winter months approach, it is important to understand risks that cold exposure can pose for old- er adults and those with chronic medical conditions. Older adults can lose body heat quickly, and changes in the body as we age can make it harder to recognize a drop in body temperature. The result can be a seri- ous condition called hypothermia. Hypothermia – a dangerous drop in core body tem- perature – can occur when it is cold inside or outside and the body is unable to produce the heat it needs to function. Even a relatively short exposure to cold conditions can result in hypothermia. Older adults are especially vulnerable to hypothermia because their bodies’ response to cold can be diminished by chronic medical conditions and by use of some medicines, in- cluding over-the-counter cold remedies. For an older person, a body temperature of 95°F or lower can cause many health problems, such as heart rhythm distur- bances, kidney problems, liver damage, or worse. Warning signs of hypothermia include slowed or slurred speech; sleepiness or confusion; shivering or stiffness in the arms and legs; poor control over body movements; slow reactions, a weak pulse, or a core body temperature of 95 degrees F or lower. If you think someone has the warning signs for hypothermia, call 9-1-1 right away and try to move the person to a warmer place. To help older adults understand the risks, the Na- tional Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Insti- tutes of Health (NIH) has some tips to avoid some of the dangers and prevent hypothermia: When going outside in the cold, wear a hat, scarf, and gloves or mittens to prevent loss of body heat through your head and hands. Wear several layers of loose clothing to help trap warm air between the lay- ers. If possible, let others know when you’re planning to spend time outdoors and carry a fully charged cell- phone. Make sure your home is warm enough. Set your thermostat to at least 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Even mildly cool homes with temperatures from 60 to 65 degrees F can lead to hypothermia in older adults. To stay warm at home, wear long underwear un- der your clothes, along with socks and slippers. Use a blanket or afghan to keep your legs and shoulders warm and wear a hat or cap indoors. States, territories, tribes, and tribal organizations may be able to help eligible households pay for home heating and cooling costs. People interested in apply- ing for assistance should contact their local or state social services agency. The NIA has free information about hypothermia in a brochure “Stay Safe in Cold Weather,” and a fact sheet in Spanish “La hipotermia: un peligro del clima frío.” You can fi nd these and other free publications on healthy aging on the NIA website or order free copies by calling NIA’s toll-free number 1-800-222-2225. About the National Institute on Aging: The NIA leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well- being of older people. The Institute’s broad scientifi c program seeks to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. For more information on research, aging, and health, go to the NIA website. About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 In- Senior Connections HJ.COM Senior stitutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit the NIH website. Connections March 2019 9