09/26/2015 08:52 EDT | Updated 09/26/2016 05:12 EDT

You Can Master the Art of Active Aging

Older Hispanic woman lifting weights in living room
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc via Getty Images
Older Hispanic woman lifting weights in living room

September 27 marks the beginning of Active Aging Week. This week long campaign calls attention to and celebrates the aging process, and more specifically, aging actively.

There is often a negative preconceived perception around the concept of aging. People dread getting older because of the limitations associated with it. Personally, I hate the word 'senior.' Society associates seniors with slowing down, taking it easy and being dependent - which many of us know is not reality. I like to think you are only as old as you feel, as they say, age is just a number!

Active Aging Week challenges theses stereotypes and really hits home with the message that regardless of age older adults can and should strive to live an active lifestyle.

Embracing the aging process is important even though at times it may be challenging. There are many measures we can take to age more gracefully and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle but the key factor is fitness.

According to ParticipACTION, older adults are encouraged to participate in a variety of physical activities. Some examples can include brisk walking, biking and aquatic exercise. In addition, both men and women should participate in resistance activities at least two days out of the week.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for adults 65 years and older recommends:

•To achieve health benefits, and improve functional abilities, adults aged 65 years and older should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate -- to vigorous -- intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.

•It is also beneficial to add muscle -- and bone-strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least two days per week.

•Those with poor mobility should perform physical activities to enhance balance and prevent falls.

These guidelines are excellent for helping to ensure you have a baseline for physical activity. However, the challenge for many Canadians over 65 is that they never grew up being educated on how to exercise properly and effectively.

I've created an instructional video demonstrating five basic fitness moves: squat, deadlift, lunge, side plank and hip-bridge. These moves are what I like to think of as the foundation for a complete workout. Each move targets a different muscle group using your body's weight to provide resistance. Each move can be modified to accommodate different fitness levels -- whether this means adding weights or making the moves simpler.

As you can see, these moves are extremely convenient as they can be performed anywhere, anytime. You can easily do them while visiting the gym, in the comfort of your own home, while traveling in a hotel or outside at the park. All you need is you.

We must realize, response to exercise is not age-dependent, it's mind dependent. This means that at any age someone can respond positively to exercise and gain the same benefits as a young person who exercises. The benefits are the same: there will be an increase in strength, energy, mobility and coordination.

Staying active in our senior years acts as a preventive measure as it can help reduce the risk of chronic disease and premature death. No matter your age, if you start today you will be setting yourself up for success.


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