Health and wellness: Keeping seniors active and having fun this summer

Health and wellness: Keeping seniors active and having fun this summer

The temperatures are warm and the sun is shining. Who doesn’t want to get outdoors? Physical activity is essential to overall good health.

A program of regular exercise affects us socially, emotionally, vocationally, physically, environmentally, spiritually and intellectually.

To make the most of the summer living, be sure to observe some basic sun and heat protection measures. Grab your hat and sunglasses, and let’s get moving!

Embrace the outdoors, and beat the heat
Outdoor activities like walking, bike riding, swimming, or tossing a bocce ball are great physical and social exercises, not to mention fun. Getting out early or later in the day is the best time for exercise, but whenever you go outdoors, it’s essential to wear sunscreen. Applying it before you get dressed makes it easier to get the coverage you need and makes it a part of your daily routine.

Check the daily UV index—the sun’s rays are strong, even when it’s overcast. Did you know that not all clothing provides adequate protection from the sun? Hold your clothes up to the light.

If you can see light through the fabric, use sunscreen under it. Different medications can affect sensitivity to the sun’s rays so be careful and consult with your doctor of pharmacist.

Drink up — Spike your Water!
Sixty percent of our bodies are made of water, and they demand regular hydration to operate at peak performance. While proper hydration is important year round, this is especially true in the warmer months. Water is the drink of choice, and you can jazz it up in countless ways to boost flavor without added sugar.

Try adding a few drops of lemon, orange or lime juice, or experiment with fresh fruit. Cucumber slices or fresh mint is delicious and refreshing.

While juices will hydrate you, they also have a lot of sugar, so it’s better to limit your intake. The same goes for caffeinated beverages like soda, coffee and tea. and coffee make it dehydrating rather that hydrating, so those drinks are better in moderation.

The more you move, the more you can move
Studies indicate that active people have lower incidences of heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes and usually have greater longevity overall than sedentary people. Walking is appropriate for every level of fitness and requires no special equipment other than well-fitting, lace up sneakers or walking shoes. Sticking to paved paths is recommended for stability. Hats and sunglasses labeled for UV protection are beneficial to all, and essential for those with glaucoma or macular degeneration.

Always strive to walk a little farther every day. The more you move, the more you can move; the less you move, the less you can move. If you slack off, it’s harder to get back up to where you were. A pedometer can be very helpful for measuring how many steps you’ve taken.

Recent studies indicate that a target for reducing the risk of premature death was about 4,500 steps per day. A woman maintained that level of activity was about 40 percent less likely to have died during the follow-up period than someone taking fewer than 3,000 steps each day.

So let’s get moving!

Joanne Lehmann is Health & Wellness Program Manager at Jefferson’s Ferry, a Life Plan Community in South Setauket.

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