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Evansville, Indiana
August 30, 1996     The Message
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August 30, 1996

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II II I II Motivation to exercise a key for senior health By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service Motivation to exercise, a prob- lem for people of all ages and physical conditions, can be espe- cially challenging for the elderly. Even for people who have never particularly exerted them- selves, doctors say beginning a workout regimen can slow the aging process, improve longevity and ease the symptoms of arthri- tis and other ailments. The Center for Science and the Public Interest notes that be- ginning exercise even after.the age of 60 or 70 can increase life expectancy by lowering blood pressure, increasing levels of good cholesterol, decreasing the risk of heart disease and slowing the rate of bone loss. But the first hurdle is to get the elderly to start, said physi- cal therapist Larry J. Nosse, an associate professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee. "I start with getting people to determine what their personal goals are," Nosse said. "It might be as simple as being able to walk Out of the nursing home to go with the family for Thanksgiving. So I break it into steps, set functional goals for how to reach that point." People even more confined by symptoms of aging may set goals like having the upper body strength to be able to hold an in- fant grandchild unassisted, he said. Dr. John Morley of the St. Louis University Medical School said the biggest exercise benefit on which he focuses is helping prevent falls, a major threat for aging people. "It can also make diabetes or arthritis easier to control," the geriatrician said. Exercise won't make either go away, but it can keep a diabetic from needing in- sulin and tend to allow arthritic joints to hurt less, he added. "As we get older, we all start to face our morbidity," Morley said. "Moderate exercise is likely to keep someone going more than anything else they can do." He recommends exercising with groups as most beneficial, as "the reality is, we are all more " likely to exercise with friends." Senior centers and other com- munity centers are places se- niors who are living on their own can start. Morley recommended that seniors consider swimming, "which is a less stressful way for many people to exercise." In the 40 to 50 group presenta- tions Nosse gives each year, he concentrates on persuading his audience to commit to doing some- thing to improve their strength. "Even talking about good pos- ture, I can get 100 people to im- prove the way they're sitting or show them how to increase their motion," he said. 'rhat can help." "People have to acquire the frame of mind that exercise is good for the elderly," Nosse said. "One quarter to one third of the strength loss the elderly have is from disuse. I can almost guar- antee if someone will work on it, they can get a 25 to 30 percent increase of strength." Road Warrior Motivation is key for a good start in any exercise program. Exercise can increase life expectancy by lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk of heart disease. -- CNS photo by Mimi Forsyth Parish a placeto stretch and tone body and soul By KARA VOZEL Special to the Message was a joint initiation between myself' and the church men- hers," Wittgen said. Felh)w parishioner and certified aero- bics instructor Lisa Floyd con- ducts the 45-minute sessions, which are held on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7 in St. Joseph's gynmasium. ,Vorkouts generally con@ist of stretching and toning exercises which aw)id overtrenuous movement. Floyd recently intro- duced her group to Dynabands, "'gdant, thick rubber bands which you use to create self-controlled tension" and thus to better mon- itor personal flexibility. Wittgen also mentioned that group mem- bers had worked a few chair ex- ercises into their routine, but de- cided to discontinue those exer- Rose Sartore afrmg that exer- "Al:e you going to start an ex- ercise program', r' "'I really need some exercise. Is there anything you call' do?" Questions such as these, says registered imrse Judy Wittgen, were aniong several asked regu- larly by adult parishioners of St. Joseph Church, Evansville, nmny of whom are retirees or are approaching retirement age. Until this spring, when Wittgen, one of two nurses hired by parishes in the Diocese of Evansville, implemented a low- impact aerobics program to ful- fill her parishioners' needs. "Actually, it (the program} cises upon learning that Floyd had printed instructions flee fin" the taking and easily fifllowed in the conffort of one's home. This doesn't prevent any of the group's older or physically at-risk melnhers from keeping a chair handy during sessions to provide occasionally-needed sup- port an&'or a place of solace. Of the group's estimated 15 regu- lars, about tbur are over the age of 60: the rest are between the ages of 35 and 60. "This program is definitely some'thing that an older person can do, as long as'the person has no mobility limits," Wittgen said. Holy Redeemer parish nurse Index to Advertisers Advertiser Alexander Funeral Homes ........... " ........... , ..... Around the Clock Care., "Page g ." ! tsiting Nurse Plus . ; ................. . 4 4" - V - . ............... ,  ade Funeral Home .................... ...... A' Ziemer Funeral Homes  ............................ ...... -.  . ; _ ,, ..... L .... .._ , r i cise, generally speaking, helps the elderly as well as those under 50. "Exercise is definitely beneficial to the elderly. After retirement, instead of meeting tbr coffee and doughnuts in the morning, the 3" (:an meet tbr'a walk.'" Sariore suggests that would- be exercisers find both a favorite activity and a partner or to to share the activity with Using the buddy system serves a dual purpose: it "serves as a motiva- tor" and "gives a person some- one else to be held accountable to, and is also advisable for safety reasons." According to Sartore, the main concern some older people might have about regular exercise is the worry that increased activ- ity could raise one's blood pres- sure. Actually, eonfirmed Sar- tore, exercise decreases blood pressure by strengthening one's heart muscle. "When your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure goes down," she said. A very real concern to watch out for, Wittgen notes, is that of persistent pain after exercising. "The 'No pain, no gain' theory is just a myth," she stated. I rec- ommend checking with a doctor if you experience this. Persistent pain indicates that something's wrong somewhere." Initial stiffness or soreness, however, doesn't necessarily in- dicate a serious problem -- or any problem at all, for that mat- ter. "I'm 50," says Wittgen, "and I walk daily and ride an exercise bike two or three times per week. But ifI sit in a chair for 30 minutes and then try to get up, my legs will still be stiffF Wittgen stresses that St. Joseph's program has no age boundaries. One woman once bfm/ght" hr"dSghtd Erhily Mitchell, a second-grader, while , other parents succeed in coax- ing teenagers to join them in St. Joseph's gym. Sartore terms this action "preventive medicine -- the younger they get started, the better." After almost six months, re- actions to St. Joseph's pr(Nram have been predominantly posi- tive. When the possibility of renting the gym to Resurrec- tion students threatened to cur- tail the program, "its members became particularly irate," Wittgen said. "Father (Englert) had said that we (the members! wouldn't still be doing this in the fall. Well, we squeezed in after Resurrection." Beginning in September, the program will meet at 7:30, a half-hour later than before. Information concerning St. Joseph's low-impact aerobics program will be available at a fall health fair, which will be held in St. Joseph's gym on Sun- day, Oct. 13, from 9 a.m. to noon: Other services provided there include cholesterol/blood pressure screenings; hearing/-i- sion tests, and depression screenings. A special health risk appraisal booth will be present as well. Wittgen sees expanding St. Joseph's sessions to three days per week as a future option -- but not an option attainable in the near future, because of con- flicting schedules and an over- booked gymnasium. So the members of the pro- gram continue to flex their Dyn- ahands and increase their heart rates twice a week, even those members who are advanced in age. For, as Sartore says, "You don't nt- to stop exercising,.. (at a certain age}. You need to .tart: ....................