Tips For Staying Active For Seniors and Older Adults

How to keep up an active and healthy lifestyle well into your golden years.

As we get older and move closer to our senior years, certain aspects of our health and lifestyle begin to change. For instance, you may find that you are no longer as active as you used to be, or that certain household tasks that were once simple and fast now require a lot more time to complete. These changes are just common side effects that come with the aging process.

Fortunately, there are many lifestyle and exercise changes that you can incorporate into your day-to-day life to help stay healthy and keep active in your senior years. In fact, adding many of these tips into your daily routine can even lead to significant overall health benefits.

For instance, in a 2008 study by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found evidence that elderly people in the U.S. who have an active life may have a slower rate of memory decline. Exercise and social activity in seniors also greatly reduces or even eliminates loneliness or depression, something that affects more secluded people.

So, how can you be sure to reap the many benefits that come along with regular exercise and fitness activities well into your golden years? We have put together some basic tips and advice on staying active as a senior and keeping your heart healthy and happy:

Meet With Your Doctor

Before beginning any kind of rigorous exercise or nutrition in you senior years, you should always first meet with your doctor and undergo a routine physical examination in order to make sure that it is safe for you to start a new fitness routine. Your doctor can also suggest certain exercises or activities that may be best for your personal goals, and can give you tips on avoiding injury and having a safe workout.

Schedule Time For Exercise In Your Day

It can be easy to put off and exercise if it is particularly difficult or challenging for you. Therefore, be sure to schedule it into your daily routine, just as you would dinner or chores, in order to make sure that you are working out for the full amount of time that you need to get your heart pumping and achieve the benefits you want. If you are having trouble with longer workouts in the beginning, you can always start slow and gradually increase your time as you become more comfortable.

Get A Partner

Whenever you turn a difficult task into a social activity, it always becomes much easier and more appealing. Luckily, exercise is no exception. Ask one of your friends or family members to join you for a walk around the neighborhood or to help you with a new fitness activity that you are interested in learning. There are also many fitness classes available for seniors across the country that can help you meet other active adults in your area.

Active Older Adults and SilverSneakers are the YMCA’s programs for today’s active adults 55 and older. Contact YMCA Dallas today to learn more about you can get started with our program today.


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How To Prepare For A Long-Distance Walk or Race

Thinking of walking or running in a race? Be sure to follow these tips!

Starting out on any kind of new exercise or wellness  program can always be a challenge for some people. Not only are you putting your body through a new strenuous activity, but it can also be difficult to fight through the lack of motivation and inspiration that a frequent exercise regime requires.

One way that many people encourage and excite themselves about a new exercise routine is by creating an exciting, long-range goal for themselves at the end of their program. This could be something as simple as a goal weight that you have been working towards for years, or even the simple task of becoming more healthy in your day-to-day life. However, one of the most popular types of long-term wellness goals that people often choose is deciding to complete a race or charity walk.

Finishing a short race or a charity walk is a very realistic goal for many walkers. Not only do these activities provide the perfect source of motivation and drive for getting into shape and completing your wellness goals, but they also make training and losing weight that much more fun. Walks also range anywhere from 3 miles to 20 miles, so they are perfect for people of all athletic backgrounds.

However, if you are thinking of signing up for a charity walk or race, it is important that you take the proper amount of time to train and prepare yourself for the event so that you can enjoy it without hurting or over-exerting yourself. To help you get started, we have put together some basic training tips that will help you preparing for a long-distance walk or race while maintaining your optimum health:

Start Training Well Before Your Race

When you first decide that you would like to complete a walk or run, you should pick a goal distance that fits your current level of fitness and then make time for a long-term training commitment that lasts for a few months before the event. Increasing your endurance involves a lot of muscle building and increased stamina, and these things do not just develop overnight. You should prepare to make a commitment to walk at least 5 to 6 days per week for at least 4 months in order to fully prepare yourself for your event.

Ask A Friend To Join In With You

One of the best ways to stay motivated in any type of exercise or activity is to share your goals and training schedule with another person. This will not only make the activity more fun and enjoyable, but it will also help you from procrastinating about your training or workouts when you have someone else to report to.

Go Easy The Week Of The Event

Before your event, you should be rested and ready, but should also be “loose.” Therefore, it is important that you go easy on yourself the week of the event in order to feel fresh and rested on your big day. However, this doesn’t mean that you should stop working out all together. Many walkers will often find that the feel tight or groggy if they do not use their muscles before a race. By completing a simple 10 to 30 minute walk the day before your event, you can be sure that you will be ready to go without feeling tight.

If you are looking for a charity walk in your area to train and prepare for this fall, The 45th Annual Capital One Bank Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot will be taking place on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas. This event is the largest Thanksgiving Day event of its kind in the country, and the 2011 Trot had a record setting 36,820 participants.  For more information, visit the 2012 Turkey Trot website today.


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The Benefits of Physical Activities and Sports for School Children

The important benefits that after school sports can have for kids.

When it comes to the topic of after school sports and physical activities, many parents are often hesitant about letting their children participate. What if they do not do well at the sport? How true is the stereotype of a cutthroat little league coach or an aggressive teammate? What if my child injures themselves? And while all of these questions are only natural for a parent whose child is entering the world of sports for the first time, the truth is, when it comes to children participating in physical activities, there are far more benefits to consider than risks.

Today’s generation of kids spends far more times indoors or sat in front of a computer screen than any other generation before them. Given this fact, it should be no surprise that we are currently fighting one of the worst cases of child obesity in history. And what better way to get your kids off of the couch and on their way to better health than to enroll them in sports?

It is no secret that sports offer children plenty of health and physical benefits. However, what many parents do not often realize is the large amount of other benefits (social, emotional and physical) team sports can have on school children. Plus, for all of the parents who worry about their child’s skill levels at certain activities, these benefits are the same whether or not your child actually excels at the sport.

If you are thinking about enrolling your child in a sport or physical activity this fall, we have put together some of the most important ways in which these activities can benefit your child in the long run:

Learn To Play Fair And Follow Rules

One of the most important lessons a child can gain from participating in sports and team activities is how to play fair with others. For instance, sporting events provide children with a great opportunity to learn how to handle competition, anger, frustration and even disappointment in the right fashion. Plus, when they see the mature ways that coaches, parents and officials handle these feelings, they will likely mirror them to solve conflict in other areas of their lives.

Encourage Good Social Skills

Team sports help kids to develop social skills and encourage positive interactions with coaches and other athletes. Activities that involve a lot of other children will also provide your kids with a chance to build new friendships outside of the classroom, and teach them how to manage themselves in a social or group environment. These types of interactions also act as the groundwork for similar social situations that they will encounter in the future.

Promotes Good Behavior

When children are involved in physical activities, they will carry a lot of what they learn into other aspects of their lives, such as their relationships, school work and self esteem. For instance, girls who are involved in sports often exhibit higher self esteem and self confidence than their inactive peers. These girls also had a more positive body image.

If your children are not yet at the level where they can play school sports, or you are simply looking to encourage physical activity in a separate environment, be sure to contact your local YMCA about their youth sports programs. YMCA youth sports encourage and promote healthy kids, families and communities by placing a priority on family involvement, healthy competition rather than rivalry, the value of participation over winning, team-building as well as individual development, a positive self-image and mutual respect for others.


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Fall Fitness: Stay Healthy This Autumn With These Health Tips

Important fall fitness tips that will help keep you in shape this season.

The start of September means many things for family’s all across the country: The leaves are slowly beginning to change colors, the days are getting shorter and the sky is becoming darker earlier, and the temperature outside is dropping steadily each and every day. While this transitional time of year is exciting and a favorite for many people, these changes can also be very stressful and hectic for those trying to keep up with their health and fitness routines of summer.

As the weather changes and the summer temperatures disappear, it can be very difficult to stay motivated. However, with the changing of the season comes a new time to rethink and restart your health and fitness routine. Plus, kicking off a fresh new fitness program this autumn will also help you create good habits to transition into the upcoming winter months.

Whether you are looking to bring your healthy summer habits into the fall season, or you want to start a fresh new workout regime this autumn, it is important plan ahead for seasonal changes and learn about the best ways to make the most of the weather outside. To help you get started, we have put together these fall fitness tips that will help you stay healthy and keep in shape this season:

1. Get Outside

The crisp autumn air and gorgeous fall colors outside make the perfect backdrop for your daily workouts. If you are looking to take in some fresh scenery and soak up the smells and sights of the season, head to some local parks or trails in your area to try out walking, hiking or cycling. These simple activities are great for both adults and children, and provide just enough exercise to get your heart pumping and your legs moving. Or, if you are lucky enough to live near water, try kayaking or canoeing for an excellent whole-body workout.

2. Dress In Layers

One of the most important things to remember whenever you are exercising outside in cooler temperatures is to dress appropriately. For instance, wearing wind-shielding clothing and dressing in layers will help you to stay warm and make your fitness activities more enjoyable. While you may feel chilled before your body gets a chance to warm up, layers will help protect your body against the outdoor elements and will keep you warm during your workout.

3. Stick With Your Fitness Program

While it may be tempting to roll over and hit the snooze button on those particularly chilly mornings, you should try and stick with your exercise routine for at least a month. This is because it takes about four weeks for behavioral patterns to sink in and for your body to adapt to the lifestyle changes you are making. Exercising takes constant commitment and motivation. Therefore, be sure to schedule it into your daily routine, just like you would with chores or meals, so that you do not give up on your fitness program so easily.

Do you have any more tips for staying motivated and active during the autumn months? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. In the mean time, be sure to check in with your local YMCA to learn about the beneficial health and fitness classes we are offering this fall.


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Exercise FAQs: Should I Hire A Personal Fitness Trainer?

The health and fitness benefits of hiring a personal trainer for your workouts.

When it comes to health and wellness goals, everyone has their own personal problems areas that they want to focus on: losing a few pounds to get back to your ideal weight, toning up your arms or legs, or simply getting back into good shape for a healthier mind and body. Because there are so many different motivators and goals from wellness programs, it is important to form an exercise routine that will help you meet these personal goals and help you overcome challenges that you may face when working out on your own.

One of the best ways get the most out of an exercise routine or come up with the best possible workout plan to help you achieve your goals is to hire a personal trainer. While many people often associate personal trainers with celebrities or professional athletes, the demand for personal trainers for the average individual has grown within the last few years. This is because working with a personal trainer is one of the fastest , most efficient ways for improving your overall health and well-being.

Whether you are looking to increase your muscular strength or endurance, or you simply want to improve your health and nutrition, hiring your own personal trainer will help you make lifestyle changes that you couldn’t otherwise achieve by working out on your own. Here are just a few more reasons why you should consider hiring a personal trainer to help you reach your health and wellness goals this fall:

Learn The Correct Technique

If you are working out or not doing exercise the correct way, it could not only prevent you from achieving the health benefits you want, but it could also possibly lead to serious injuries that could sideline you from working out all together. By hiring a personal trainer, you can ensure that you are learning to do exercises correct, while also getting the maximum benefit from each and every workout that you do. Eventually, you may even learn all of the facets of basic workouts which you can take home to practice on your own.

Stick With Your Physical Activity & Nutrition Program

The hardest part of any exercise routine is staying motivated and sticking with the program. However, having a personal trainer that is scheduled into your daily routine and that you have a commitment to work with is one of the best ways to motivate yourself to stick with a consistent exercise program. Trainers can also help you to work around some of your biggest obstacles to exercise and keep your working hard towards your goals.

Achieve Your Wellness Goals

Ultimately, the primary reason that people hire personal trainer is so that they can get professional assistance to get the maximum results from their workouts. Not only can they help design a wellness program that is specifically for you, but they will also help you discover workouts that use your strengths and improve your weaknesses. This way you can get healthy and stay fit, while also taking responsibility for your own health.

If you are looking to hire a personal trainer in order to help with your personal health and wellness goals, be sure to contact the YMCA Dallas today. One of our nationally certified personal trainers can help guide you through new and innovative exercises to help you reach your wellness goals.


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Summer Activities: Safety Tips For Swimming In The Ocean

Enjoy your time at the beach this summer by following these swimming tips.

After a long, hot day of playing at the beach, building sandcastles with your friends or simply relaxing in the sun with a great book, there is nothing more relaxing that stripping off your shorts or tank top and running straight into the ocean waves. Whether you are lucky enough to live near the ocean all year long, or it is something that you simply get to experience once a year during summer vacation, it is no secret that swimming in the open sea is one of the greatest activities of summer.

However, swimming in the ocean is a lot different than swimming in a pool, especially for children or to anyone who is new to swimming in the open sea. Not only is there more water and more people at the beach, but you also have to worry about the dangers that currents, large waves and mother nature itself can bring on unsuspecting swimmers. 

To help you ensure that your family has a fun, safe day while at the beach this summer, we are putting together some of our most important safety tips for when it comes to swimming in the ocean. Be sure that you go over each of these tips with your children and family members well before the excitement of vacation is upon you to ensure that they truly know the importance of staying safe at the beach this summer season.

1. Check The Weather Before Heading Out

Like with any outdoor activity, you should always double-check the weather to ensure that you are heading out into clear skies, free of storms or any hazards that you may need to know about. The sound of thunder should serve as a warning to leave the water when swimming in the ocean. This is because lightning can strike swimmers and is more attracted to water than land, so people in the water are more vulnerable. Bad weather conditions have also been known to create heavy waves that can knock down people at the edge of the water, and can even drag swimmers into deeper water.

2. Prepare Before You Jump In

According to The National Park Service, you should always observe the ocean and the waves for a few minutes before you get in to get a good understanding of how the sea is at the moment. Looking at the ocean from onshore can also give you a better idea of the current wave strength, the deep areas of the beach and any other potential hazards that may be just below the surface.

3. Understand The Movement Of The Water

Unlike in pools or in lakes, the ocean constantly has an undercurrent that is moving and shifting with each and every wave that crashes up to shore. However, a simple undercurrent is not always the biggest of your worries when at the ocean. A rip current, or riptide, is a strong channel of water caused by one current flowing into or across another. Riptides may cause fatalities when people who are caught in them try to swim against the current. Instead, people caught in a riptide should swim sideways, angling back toward the beach, explains the National Park Service.

4. Make Sure No One Is Left Unsupervised

Given the sheer size and power of the ocean, it is important that anyone who is swimming always has supervision or a buddy who knows of their current location. Children especially should always be supervised when they are swimming. Just think, if adults and experienced swimmers can get pulled out to sea or under the surf, a small child will certainly be no match for the ocean’s power.

The beach is the perfect place to spend your family’s summer vacation. However, just remember to follow these four important ocean safety tips before you jump in the water at the beach to ensure an afternoon of fun in the sun, free of any swimming accidents.


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The Importance of Staying Active in Your Senior Years

Active older adults can receive many health benefits from exercising regularly.

As we enter our senior years, it can be difficult to get outside and remain as active as we used to be when we were younger. Whether you are someone who has always been into physical fitness, you try to fit in exercise when you have a free moment, or you simply take the occasional walk around the block after dinner, it can be harder and harder to find the motivation and time to stay active as we get older.

However, that doesn’t make the prospect of regular exercise any less important. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), exercise and physical activity are some of the best things that older adults can do in order to stay healthy and improve their overall well-being. In fact, through exercising regularly, seniors are able both increase their energy and acquire more confidence.

Luckily the many benefits that come with adapting an exercise regime into your day-to-day life are not biased to age or physical health. The truth is, you’re never too old or out of shape to start getting active. Without physical activity, seniors can even grow weaker in four specific areas which are essential for staying healthy: endurance, strength, health and flexibility.

If you are thinking about fitting regular exercise and fitness into your daily routine, congratulations! You have officially taken the first step towards improving your future and living a longer, healthier life. Here are just a few benefits that you can expect to come from exercising regularly:

Helps You Maintain Or Lose Weight

Exercise helps to improve your sugar metabolism, while also building muscle mass, making it easier to burn calories and work towards your weight loss goals. Once you achieve these goals and maintain your ideal weight, your general health will also begin to significantly improve. For instance, exercise reduces gastrointestinal transit time, which means the waste from your food passes through your intestines quicker, lessening your risk of colon cancer.

Elevates Your Mood

While many people have heard that depression can be a problem as you enter your senior years, most do not know that working our regularly empowers the brain and spirit of seniors. For instance, exercising helps to produce natural endorphins and hormones which make you feel good and elevate your mood. This also helps to ward off sadness and depression, enabling you to acquire happiness and confidence.

Reduces Chance Of Pain And Illness

Exercising provides a large number of benefits to your health and well being. For instance, keeping active can lower your chance of developing Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and osteoporosis. Seniors’ blood pressure and cholesterol levels can also greatly benefit from physical fitness. And the best part? It only takes 1-3 months of exercise for full health benefits  to take effect.

If you are looking for ways to introduce health and fitness into your daily routine, start researching the best at-home exercises for seniors. Many facilities also hold popular fitness classes for seniors. For instance, Active Older Adults and SilverSneakers are the YMCA’s programs for today’s active adults 55 and older. Contact YMCA Dallas today to learn more about you can get started with our program today.


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