HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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will have more energy to do these activities. They will not seem as difficult, and your workout may even become enjoyable.


Research suggests regular exercise is essential for reducing and preventing the health declines that are often associated with aging. Exercising regularly can help older adults improve day-to-day function. That reduces healthcare costs and provides independence. That’s a win-win in anybody’s book.

For many adults, growing older seems to involve a loss of strength, which in turn affects many aspects of independent living. Much of the strength loss older adults experience is due to inactivity. Decreased energy and frailty are all due to muscle loss. To combat the loss of muscle mass, older adults should incorporate weight training to improve their strength. This can help them maintain their health and independence. Exercise as an important part of daily life is also associated with quality of life.


The loss of muscle mass with aging, a condition known as sarcopenia, is a major factor in strength deterioration in older adults. Adults experience a significant decline in muscle strength after age 50 years. Weight training is encouraged for this aging population. You don’t have to hoist heavy barbells with hundreds of pounds on them like an Olympic weightlifter. Using light weights with high repetitions will increase muscle strength.


Regular strength training can reduce chances of chronic disease. It lessens your risk of heart disease by lowering body fat, decreasing blood pressure and improving cholesterol. Feeling physically strong also promotes mental and emotional health in older adults, which contributes to confidence and independence.



OLDER ADULTS AND STRENGTH TRAINING

Before beginning an exercise routine, consult your primary care physician. He or she may have you complete a physical questionnaire, making sure no diseases or challenges prevent you from exercising safely. It is important to do exercises and activities that you enjoy so you’ll stick with your exercise routine. The American College of Sports Medicine (www.acsm.org) has guidelines on the amount of strength training older adults should perform.


If you have never exercised, it is important to learn the basics first. Instead of using resistance-training equipment, you should start with body-weight exercises – push ups, planks, pull ups, squats and other exercises that use the body as resistance. Once you have mastered these, you can begin using small weights. Slowly increase the load as you feel more comfortable and capable. exercises that use the body as resistance. Once you have mastered these, you can begin using small weights. Slowly increase the load as you feel more comfortable and capable. Resistance bands are another option in addition to handheld weights.


Focusing on the larger muscle groups allows the body to go through more functional movements. These are the movements used for walking long distances, climbing stairs and carrying groceries. As you become stronger, you

TANIQUA WARD, M.S

TaNiqua Ward is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

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