You’re never too old to get fit: VA celebrates Older Americans and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

During the month of May, VA is celebrating both Older Americans and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. We want to bring awareness to the importance of promoting and increasing physical fitness among older Veterans with this year’s theme “Never 2 Old 2 Get Fit.”

As we grow older, an active lifestyle is more important than ever. Regular exercise can help manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as boost one’s energy. Exercise can reverse some of the symptoms of aging. Exercise is also great for the mind, mood, and memory.

Veterans like 91-year-old John Knight are staying active as they age. Knight, who goes to the Greater Los Angeles VA, performs push-ups for VA’s Gerofit/Go4Life program honoring physical activity for Older Adults Month. The photo on the right is Knight at 44 years old, performing a free-arm planche on Muscle Beach, Santa Monica. He does not look much different now at age 91.

In addition to Gerofit, VA has the MOVE! Weight Management Program to encourage healthy eating behavior and increasing physical activity. Living a healthier lifestyle can have effects on reducing health risks, preventing or reducing certain diseases, and improving quality-of-life and longevity. Check out some tips below on how to stay active and healthy as you age.

Physical Health Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults

  • Exercise improves strength, flexibility, and posture, which in turn will help with balance, coordination, and reducing the risk of falls.
  • Exercise can improve immune function, blood pressure, bone density and digestive functioning.
  • Exercise can lower the risk of several chronic conditions including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and certain cancers

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise in Older Americans

  • Exercise can improve your sleep which is important for overall health.
  • Exercise is a huge stress reliever and the endorphins released can help reduce feeling of sadness, depression, or anxiety
  • Exercise is good for the brain which can aid in the prevention of memory loss, cognition decline, and dementia.

Tips for Starting A Fitness Program

  • Get medical clearance before starting an exercise program.
  • Ask if there are any activities to avoid
  • Consider health concerns
  • Start slow
  • Commit to an exercise schedule
  • Stay motivated

Talk with your VA health care provider to learn how to become more active and start living a healthier lifestyle.

By Melissa Heintz. Original Post

Melissa Heintz joined the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team as a public affairs specialist in October 2015. She grew up on an Army base in Japan before her family relocated to Hawaii. She holds a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications and Spanish from Seattle University. Melissa has served as a public affairs specialist with Navy Region Hawaii Fleet and Family Readiness and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In December 2015, Melissa commissioned in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where she serves as a public affairs officer with the 143rd Airlift Wing.