Physical: Exercise and Fitness
Four years ago, Peter Henningsen was in rough shape. "They discovered throat cancer," says the 79-year-old. After undergoing radiation and other treatment, Peter recovered but the ordeal left him weakened. "I could hardly walk," he says. Doctors told him he'd need a walker for the rest of his life.
"That's when I realized I had to get going." Peter began a fitness program that now sees him swimming 40 lengths of a nearby Olympic pool and Nordic walking six days out of seven. It all started with a daily walk around the outside of the Chartwell Classic residence in Oakville, Ontario, where Peter has lived for two-and-a-half years. He soon stretched that stroll out to a mile-a-day walk at the local YMCA and a physiotherapy regime that would please an Olympic coach. "I haven't used a cane since," he says.
Peter is among a growing number of seniors who realize the importance of physical exercise in living happier, healthier lives. Besides boosting mobility, cardio fitness and overall body strength, exercise impacts health in other ways according to Chris Moffett, a certified personal trainer and older adult fitness specialist. "Defeating depression is a big thing," says Moffett, whose Staying Strong program is popular with seniors in the Toronto area. "Exercise boosts the neuron transmitters that basically make you happy. When they're turned on, people feel better."
Moffett says research shows that active people do live longer, and he urges seniors to use the fitness centres in retirement communities. Just ask questions, he adds. Aquafit and other programs are great, but seniors should consult with a qualified personal trainer to be assessed properly and receive a program designed for their needs.
"Exercise boosts the neuron transmitters that make you happy. When they're turned on, people feel better."— Chris Moffett, Older Adult Fitness Specialist
"Figure out what your objectives are," says Moffett. "Set a goal to be able to take the stairs instead of the elevator, carry groceries or do more to keep up with the grandchildren."
This is one of a series of articles detailing seven pillars of a fulfilling retirement. Six other articles discuss other critical aspects of an ideal retirement including the following: