Sunflower FieldFitness and Health

There was a time, not so long ago, when aging was viewed primarily as an illness to be treated rather than as an opportunity to continue growing and experiencing the joys of living and using our wisdom gained from our life experiences to enrich the lives of others.

The reality is that aging begins the day we are born and continues until the day we die. We know, of course, that the quality of life we can expect in the future is significantly influenced by the decisions we have made throughout life.

But the purpose of this website is not to dwell on the mistakes of the past but to focus on what we can do today and tomorrow that will in part compensate for some of the bad decisions we may have made earlier.

"Everybody knows the numbers; everybody reads the newspapers. We all know that individuals are living far longer now than in any time in history.

We all know that modern medicine and technologies have pushed the envelope so that many people are still "finding themselves" well into their 80s and 90s. Healthy AgingDoes this happen by luck? Is this a roll of the dice? Absolutely not," according to Dr. Edward T. Creagan, Editor of the Mayo Clinic on  Healthy Aging.

Moreover, Dr. Creasan writes, "Living healthy isn't simply a reflection of personal genetics. It results from a combination of many factors including fitness, nutrition, preventive care, your personal outlook and your relationships --in addition to genetic influences. In other words, good health and well-being are generally the result of smart decisions and the right attitude." If you are looking for a comprehensive source of information on Fitness and Health, this Mayo Clinic book is the best I have found anywhere.


Use It or Lose It ~~ Stay Active

"Good old-fashioned, sweat-inducing exercise is probably the single most important thing that you can do to live well. Even in moderate amounts, exercise can help you better enjoy life and prevent diseases that people mistakenly automatically believe come with age." (Mayo, Healthy Aging)

Assuming we commit to an exercise program that is age-appropriate and have the discipline to stay with it, we may not be able to compete in the Olympics but the starting point for healthy aging is an active lifestyle.

Sir Isaac NewtonIf you recall from your high school or college physics class, Newton's First Law of Motion states simply that "Every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it."

Ask anyone why they don't exercise more and invariably you will hear a litany of excuses. The reality is that changing from a state of rest to a state of motion is harder than continuing to remain inactive. The hard truth is that very few people have a valid excuse for not engaging in some form of exercise.

"Whether you're 25 or 85, regular, repetitive physical activity can provide the benefits you need to help you look and feel better and enjoy great health." (Mayo, Healthy Aging) Most experts agree that any form of exercise is better than no exercise but they also agree that the more balanced and varied our plan is, the greater the benefits.

You're Never Too Old

Click this link for a special issue of NIH News in Health focusing on seniors.

Strength training is not simply something that body builders do. Regular strength training program helps to counteract the effects of gravity and we will look younger. As we age, we lose muscle mass -- mainly because of the slowing metabolism. Since muscle is metabolically active, the more muscle mass you have, the faster your metabolism.

And this can produce multiple benefits:

  1. Less risk of injury
  2. Better balance
  3. Better agility
  4. Better coordination
  5. Higher energy level

Endurance exercises, such as walking, jogging, biking, etc., improve our energy and stamina. It is not a question of which is better, strength training of endurance exercises, they serve different purposes, and the combination is more beneficial than either of the options alone. The National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health is an excellent source for suggestions about how to stay active regardless of the weather. Check their website, Activities for All Seasons.

Many of our basic bodily functions start to decline at about 1 or 2 percent a year after age 30. We cannot stop the decline from occurring but we can cut it in half or more with a regular exercise routine. Medical science has made enormous strides during our lifetimes but there is, as of now at least, no foolproof way to predict who among us will maintain their health and vitality longer than others. But every day that passes new discoveries are being announced that help us to know what steps we can take to increase our odds of living longer and more productively.

PICKLEBALL is coming to Louisburg!

The Louisburg Recreation Commission is sponsoring a fun, easy-to-learn exercise program at the Wildcat Activity Center from 10 am-Noon on Wednesdays ~ $5 per person/ 18 & up. Paddles & balls provided. You can start playing anytime. Great exercise for seniors! For more info contact Diana at 913-837-1910 or


For seniors recovering from injury or illness and physical therapyfor those experiencing chronic pain, Physical Therapy can help relieve pain and restore physical functions such as flexibility, strength, balance and coordination. I am speaking from personal experience when I recommend physical therapy!

Elderly physical therapy encompasses a combination of approaches including stretching, walking, massage, hydrotherapy, and electrical stimulation among others. The goal of physical therapy for seniors is to make daily tasks and activities easier. And to make seniors as independent as possible.

connie chain saw    At 62, my wife takes advantage of every opportunity to keep fit. Her first option when there is work to do in the yard is to handle it herself.    Everyone has different capabilities and interests but Connie would rather get her physical activity doing things she enjoys rather than spending time in the gym or on the trail walking or jogging.

Eat as if Your Life Depended on It!

The bottom line: If you want to live well, you have to eat well." (Mayo, p. 201) Hard to disagree up to this point. But the challenge is knowing how to 'eat well.' Hardly a station break goes by when we are not hammered with assurances such as, 'All you have to do, is eat the food, and you will lose the weight. Is it the Jenny Craig diet, Slim4Life, the South Beach Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, Nutrisystems, the Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers, Keto, or the Biggest Loser that we should be following?

One thing seems clear, we all want to be healthy, trim, and fit. Why else would the marketers spend such huge budgets trying to convince us that they have the secret formula that will accomplish this magically and make them rich in the process.

Rather than bite on commercial messages, a better option is to rely on scientific-based sources regarding the types of food that will produce the healthiest outcomes, such as the Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid.

According to Mayo, "An effective diet is a diet in which you consume fewer calories each day than you burn up in physical activity. It should also be enjoyable and satisfying. And, in addition, shopping, cooking and eating practices should be simple and inexpensive. Otherwise, you won't stay with the plan."

This presumes of course that you are in a position, financially and physically, to plan, shop, prepare and consume your own meals, which is unrealistic or impossible for many older adults, especially those who live alone.Congregate Meals at the Senior Center and the Meals on Wheels program are an important option for seniors.

Develop A Healthy Partnership with Your Doctor

When? and How Often do you see your doctor? Only when you are sick? Of course, it is important to see the doctor when you are sick, but the best medical care is preventive care and unless you see your doctor regularly enough that he/she has a current picture of what your vital signs are when you are feeling good, it will be more difficult to diagnose what's wrong with you when you are sick.

I consider my personal physician, Dr. Douglas Knox, to be one of my best friends. I am always impressed when I am in his office how he makes every patient feel comfortable and at ease.

Among his greatest concerns is patients who ignore early warning signs of impending illness and by the time they come to see him their condition has often advanced beyond the point where he is able to help them.

Being Able to Talk with Your Doctor Matters

In the past, the doctor typically took the lead and the patient followed. Today, a good patient-doctor relationship is more of a partnership. You and your doctor can work as a team, along with nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers, to manage your medical problems and keep you healthy.

How well you and your doctor talk to each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. But, talking to your doctor isn’t always easy. It takes time and effort on your part as well as your doctor’s.

This means:

Taking an active role in your health care puts the responsibility for good communication on both you and your doctor.

All of this is true at any age. But, when you’re older, it becomes even more important to talk often and comfortably with your doctor.

That’s partly because you may have more health conditions and treatments to discuss. It’s also because your health has a big impact on other parts of your life, and that needs to be talked about, too.

Making Decisions with Your Doctor

You will benefit most from a treatment when you know what is happening and are involved in making decisions. Make sure you understand what your treatment involves and what it will or will not do. Have the doctor give you directions in writing and feel free to ask questions.

For example: “What are the pros and cons of having surgery at this stage?” or “Do I have any other choices?”

If your doctor suggests a treatment that makes you uncomfortable, ask if there are other treatments that might work.

If cost is a concern, ask the doctor if less expensive choices are available. The doctor can work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.

Here are some things to remember when deciding on a treatment:

Discuss Choices.

Questions to Ask About Treatment

Healthy Habits Can Lengthen Life

We have all heard the advice to exercise, choose a healthy diet, keep a lean weight, never smoke, and limit alcohol if we want to improve our chance of living a long and healthy life.

Researchers wanted to find out whether people who follow this advice live longer than those who don’t. So, they compared lifespan and other data from thousands of adults with all five of these healthy habits to those without.

People in the healthy habits group got at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. They ate the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and healthy fats. And they limited salt, sugary drinks, trans fat, and red and processed meats. They also limited alcohol. Women had no more than one drink each day and men no more than two drinks. They also maintained a normal weight and didn’t smoke.

The people in the other group didn’t exercise, have a healthy diet, or limit drinking. They smoked and were overweight.

Based on the results, the researchers estimated that a 50-year-old woman who had all five habits would live, on average, to age 93. In contrast, if she didn’t have any of these habits, she would live on average to age 79.

For a 50-year-old man, the average lifespan was about 88 years old with healthy behaviors and only 76 years without.

“This study underscores the importance of following healthy lifestyle habits for improving longevity in the U.S. population,” says Dr. Frank B. Hu of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, senior author of the study.

Learn About Prevention

Doctors and other health professionals may suggest you change your diet, activity level, or other aspects of your life to help you deal with medical conditions. Research has shown that these changes, particularly an increase in exercise, have positive effects on overall health.

Until recently, preventing disease in older people received little attention. But, things are changing. We now know that it’s never too late to stop smoking, improve your diet, or start exercising.

Getting regular checkups and seeing other health professionals, such as dentists and eye specialists, helps promote good health. Even people who have chronic diseases, like arthritis or diabetes, can prevent further disability and, in some cases, control the progress of the disease.

If a certain disease or health condition runs in your family, ask your doctor if there are steps you can take to help prevent it. If you have a chronic condition, ask how you can manage it and if there are things you can do to keep it from getting worse. If you want to discuss health and disease prevention with your doctor, say so when you make your next appointment. This lets the doctor plan to spend more time with you.

It is just as important to talk with your doctor about lifestyle changes as it is to talk about treatment. For example:

“I know that you’ve told me to eat more dairy products, but they really disagree with me. Is there something else I could eat instead?” or

“Maybe an exercise class would help, but I have no way to get to the senior center or health club. Is there something else you could suggest?”

As with treatments, consider all the alternatives, look at pros and cons, and remember to take into account your own point of view. Tell your doctor if you feel his or her suggestions won’t work for you and explain why. Keep talking with your doctor to come up with a plan that works.

Keep in mind the adage, 'No pain, no gain.' If you have been living a sedentary life avoiding (or neglecting) exercise, even if you start slow and ease into an exercise routine, long neglected muscles are going to become sore when you start using them more. Don't overdo it but don't use the pain as an excuse to avoid appropriate activity that will pay big dividends. Even if you can legally park in the handicapped spaces near the entrance, try parking farther away and get a few extra steps in on the way into the supermarket.

Most doctors recommend that older people try to make physical activity a part of everyday life. When you are making your list of things to talk about with your doctor, add exercise.

Ask how exercise would benefit you, if there are any activities you should avoid, and whether your doctor can recommend any specific kinds of exercise.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving."   Albert Eintein

Life expectancy has risen steadily over the centuries. During the Roman Empire, the average person lived to the age of 22. As recently as the 1900s, life expectancy in developed countries ranged from 35 to 55.

A theme that will run throughout this website is that living longer can be dreadful if you are lonely, bored, depressed or in poor health. Life worth living is one guided by a sense of purpose and meaning. I believe we are all placed on this earth to make it a better place when we leave than when we arrived.

SilverSneakers is a fitness program for seniors that’s included with many Medicare Advantage plans. SilverSneakers helps millions of people on Medicare defy the odds, shatter stereotypes and answer every challenge with, “I can do this!”

Membership includes access to every gymathletic club  and fitness center in the network at more than 16,000 locations including the Louisburg Athletic Club.

What we can say with confidence is that regular exercise not only makes the daily tasks couple jogging of living easier, it also helps us to deal with the problems and stressors that confront us on a daily basis. By reducing the impact of stress we are far less likely to experience the symptoms of depression and chronic anxiety while experiencing the benefit of improved self-esteem.

Conditions That Are More Common as We Age

Age-related diseases are illnesses that occur more frequently in people as they get older, meaning age is a significant risk factor. In addition to eating the right foods, getting plenty of sleep, and staying active to maintain our overall health, paying attention to the early warning signs is often the difference between a curable condition and a terminal one.

Never hesitate to obtain the advice of your physician and follow it! It is better to find out it was a false alarm than to ignore and discover after it is too late that you should have paid attention to the early warning signs.




Focus on Sleep

The two basic types of sleep are rapid eye movement (REM) and deep sleep (non-REM). Generally, non-REM and REM sleep occur in a regular pattern of 3-5 cycles each night.

Our ability to function and feel well while we're awake depends on whether we're getting enough total sleep and enough of each type of sleep.

There are many excellent resources available on the Internet with extensive and detailed information covering virtually any medical or health issue common to seniors. A good place to start is the MedlinePlus website which is a part of the National Institutes of Health.

At least at this point in time, there are no known ways to avoid the occurrence of these illnesses. As medical science and research continues, many of these will become less and less frequent but until we discover the mythical Fountain of Youth we cannot escape the reality that we are all finite beings and none of us are going to live forever.

"Anyone can get old," said Groucho Marx. "All you have to do is live long enough."