Meigs Health Matters…The Benefits of Being Physically Active
Being in my late 40s, I find it takes more effort and motivation to be physically active. Perhaps you experience the same challenge regardless of your age. But, being physically active is important and beneficial at any age.
As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), just one bout of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity provides immediate benefits to your health, including: Sleep – Improves sleep quality; Less Anxiety – Reduces feelings of anxiety; Blood pressure – Reduces blood pressure. Regular physical activity provides significant health benefits in the prevention of chronic disease. Long-term benefits include: Brain health – Reduces the risk of developing dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) and lowers the risk of depression; Heart Health – Reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes; Cancer Prevention – Reduces the risk of eight cancers: bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, lung and stomach; Healthy Weight – Reduces risk of weight gain; Bone Strength – Improves bone health; Balance and Coordination – Reduces the risk of falls. Physical activity makes it easier to perform activities of daily living, including eating, bathing, going to the bathroom, getting dressed, lying down or getting up from a bed or chair, and getting around the house or neighborhood. Physically active older people are less likely to fall and, if they do fall, they are less likely to be seriously injured. Physical activity can also preserve physical function and mobility, which can help maintain independence longer and delay the onset of major disability.
If you’re not currently physically active, it’s never too late to start. Keep in mind that some physical activity is better than none at all. Remember to consult your doctor before beginning any type of physical activity. Older people should move more and sit less throughout the day. Older adults who sit less and engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity experience some health benefits. Your health benefits will increase with the increase in physical activity you do. Older adults with chronic conditions need to understand if and how their conditions affect their ability to engage in regular physical activity safely. When older people cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week (for example, 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week) due to chronic illnesses, they should be as physically active as their abilities and their condition allows it.
What can you do to increase your level of physical activity? Walking, hiking, dancing, swimming, water aerobics, jogging, running, aerobics classes, yoga, cycling, gardening, sports like tennis or basketball, strengthening exercises using exercise bands, weight machines or hand weights, push-ups, pull-ups, squats or lunges, gardening, carrying groceries and tai chi are just a few examples.
How can you be physically active in Meigs County? The Meigs County Health Department’s Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) program makes the healthy choice an easy choice for residents and visitors. Over the years and across the county, thousands of grant dollars have been invested. All CSC projects are suggested by community coalition members. Some examples of completed projects include improved playgrounds (including, but not limited to, Angela Eason Memorial Park, Star Mill Park, Water Works Park, Mechanic Street Park, and Ball Park in Syracuse) through the installation of inclusive and accessible equipment for all ages and abilities. The program constructed or rehabilitated walking paths and the public basketball court along Main Street in Pomeroy in addition to resurfacing the tennis court and assisting in the construction of the Splash Pad at General Hartinger Park in Middleport . CHC has established the free Book A Bike program with the Meigs Public Library system and is responsible for establishing the Meigs County Farmer’s Market. CHC coordinated the county’s active transportation plan to make walking or biking to work or school safer. The CHC has planned the establishment of community gardens as well as the planting of fruit and nut trees in the publicly accessible area of the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District, outside of Rutland.
CHC activities planned for 2022 include, but are not limited to, installing three water bottle refill stations to increase hiking trail usage in Forked Run State Park; implementation of a paved right-of-way leading to General Hartinger Park in Middleport and resurfacing the Chester United Methodist Church basketball court for public use.
Overall, the evidence shows that regular physical activity provides significant health benefits for people of all ages and abilities. Remember that establishing a fitness routine and achieving your health goals are marathons, not sprints. The results will come as you remain consistent and persistent in your dedication and effort to improve your physical and mental well-being.
The Meigs County Health Department is available to assist you. Please call 740-992-6626 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or visit www.meigs-health.com for more information.
Courtney C. Midkiff, BSC, is an administrator for the Meigs County Health Department.