Actively Aging: Staying Strong

Eau Claire (WQOW) — News 18 is introducing a monthly "Actively Aging" segment that focuses on the people who’ve helped shape the very community we live in today. July’s segment was geared toward exercise. 

Retired police officer Steve Olson teaches a strength class at the L.E. Phillips Senior Center.

"That encompasses building strength, keeping our muscles strong, as well as flexible and we also do balancing routines so that we are able to still live in our own homes and meet the conditions we face every day," Olson said.

Exercise is a crucial component to aging well, but it can look a little different for some over 55.

"It’s easy when you’re really young to be involved in a volleyball team or a softball team or some kind of a team sport that helps you be more engaged, the older people get they have to do more individual sports. So that’s really one of the main issues that I see is that it’s harder to get out by yourself," said Dr. Adam Atkins, sports medicine physician at Marshfield Clinic. 

"Movement is life and life is movement, if we don’t move we don’t live, and that’s the key, that’s the fountain of youth," Olson said.

No matter the move, Dr. Atkins said the extra motion matters.

"Each year as we age, our muscles start to break down, so the way that we can prevent that process is to stay active and engage and use our muscles. Our bones also require us to be weight bearing on them as to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis or fractures if we have an issue," Dr. Atkins said.

The World Health Organization recommends seniors exercise a total of 150 minutes per week, which is something only 1/3 of the populations does.

"That would be about 30 minutes five times a week and activities that they recommend would be something that is moderate activity like a brisk walk or riding a bicycle," Dr. Atkins said.

The extra time spent improves the body, but when done with groups of people, it can also build community, and boost mood and mental health.

"When you exercise it releases endorphins which really can help people to control anxiety or depression," Dr. Atkins said.

The L.E. Phillips Senior Center offers several types of fitness classes. Everything from circuit, to step, and even yoga classes. You can find a full list by visiting THEIR WEBSITE.

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