Go4Life is an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to encourage adults over 50 to incorporate exercise and physical activity into their lives. The federal campaign is based on research which shows that exercise helps people remain healthy, stay independent and prevent chronic conditions that may come with age.
The campaign provides exercises, success stories and free materials to motivate seniors to add more physical activity to their everyday lives. Research shows that adults become less active as they age. (Surprisingly, only about 30 percent of people 45-64 say they engage in regular leisure-time physical activity). Worse, a U.S. Surgeon General’s report on physical activity and health found seniors are the least physically active of all Americans—40 percent of women and 30 percent of men over 70 never exercise.
The Go4Life campaign is for individuals, family members, caregivers, senior centers, assisted living communities, health providers, corporations and others. It’s one significant way to improve the lives of older adults.
Exercise is actually good for everyone, especially older adults. Depending on age and physical conditions, nearly everyone can participate in some type of physical activity, even if modified to suit specific needs. The benefits of exercise are wide reaching.
• Improve and maintain physical strength and fitness
• Increase your ability to perform everyday tasks
• Enhance your balance
• Help manage and improve health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis
• Reduce depression and improve mood
• Develop your mental and cognitive task abilities, like planning and shifting between projects
What Types of Exercise Should you Do?
In order to prevent boredom and receive the full benefits of beginning an exercise program, you should include the four main types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility training. Here’s a look at what each kind of exercise is and the benefits it provides.
Endurance – Endurance exercise increases your heart rate and breathing and improves your overall physical health. It includes activities like hiking, brisk walking and swimming. These activities provide the staying power it takes to go the distance for things like mowing or raking the yard and keeping up with grandchildren at the park. They also make physical tasks, like climbing stairs, easier.
Strength – Strength exercises increase your muscle power whether you use weights or resistance bands or participate in activities like yoga or Pilates. Increasing your strength makes carrying groceries, lugging the laundry basket and lifting a heavy package a breeze.
Balance – Working on balance exercises like standing on one leg in yoga, practicing tai chi or paddle boarding help improve your overall balance. Good balance helps prevent falls and allows you to reach something on tiptoe or walk a narrow path without faltering.
Flexibility – Flexibility exercises like yoga, stretching or isometrics help keep you limber so you can bend over and tie your shoes, squat down in the garden or get down on the floor with the grandkids.
Before Starting an Exercise Routine, Ask Your Doctor:
1. If there are any exercises you should avoid based on your recent health history, surgeries or conditions like arthritis, diabetes or heart disease.
2. How your health condition affects your ability to exercise. For example are there any modifications or adjustments you need to make based on your physical, nutritional or health limitations, such as avoiding stairs with arthritic knee inflammation or eating before exercise with diabetes?
3. Are there any preventive care tests you should schedule before getting started such as an osteoporosis scan or an EKG?
Once you’re given the go ahead to start an exercise program, Go4Life can provide all the needed information, motivation and specific exercises to get you going. The Bristal residents, family and staff are encouraged to get involved and participate in Go4Life.