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Fitness as a Goal for Life

March 06, 2017

By Mary Staackmann, CPP
Director of Lifelong Learning, North Shore Senior Center

Fitness is as important to the body as fine tuning an engine is to a car. To work efficiently, the body needs to be active. George Burns, who lived to age 100, used to say, "If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself!" Fitness is a lifelong journey, and it is never too late to start working toward better health.

As a normal part of aging, muscles gradually become weaker, and a person may experience muscle weakening by 1-2% every year after age 50, with no changes in regular activity. The good news is that muscle mass can increase, no matter the age of the participant. A basic physical fitness routine can increase muscular strength as well as improve balance, walking ability and endurance.

Effective fitness programs should target 3 main areas: cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility. Exercisers over the age of 50 should also focus on balance and core training. Adding a balance and core training program to your workout can significantly reduce the risk of falls, increase independence and make daily activities easier to perform.

Additionally, physical fitness impacts the heart, lungs and even the brain. Staying active and healthy promotes increases in brain activity, memory retention and mental alertness. Spending as little as 30 minutes, just two times per week, on physical activity can give you major benefits, including a lower risk of chronic disease, decreased blood pressure and increased energy levels. Regular fitness regimens have also been proven to enhance mood and lower the incidence of depression and anxiety.

The Fitness Center at North Shore Senior Center offers wellness programs, from independent exercise to group fitness classes, designed to help our members meet their fitness goals. The fitness staff is highly trained and can accommodate all exercise levels and abilities. For detailed information on fitness programming, please contact the Fitness Center at 847.784.6003, or stop in and check it out yourself!