Recently, NRPA has featured a ton of great content to encourage healthy aging in parks. This wellness blog will give you a few resources to assist with healthy aging programs and policies in your department.
Healthy aging and physical activity participation are closely linked. According to NRPA, physical activity improves physical function and provides social and mental health benefits that all contribute to improved quality of life for older adults.
In an NRPA study, it's estimated that 9 out of 10 local park and recreation agencies offer services for older adults. This is exciting news, as we know how important local recreation departments are for community health.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion published a 2008 report which focuses on Active Older Adults. The report offers some key guidelines, which are outlined below:
All older adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and older adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
For substantial health benefits, older adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
For additional and more extensive health benefits, older adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
Older adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.
Older adults should do exercises that maintain or improve balance if they are at risk of falling.
Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.
Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.
When thinking about health programs for older adults, it's important to keep these guidelines in mind. Using these guidelines will ensure that your programs are being planned in a way that will be more beneficial to your participants.
Additionally, Wednesday, May 30th is National Senior Health & Fitness Day! This is a great opportunity for your department to promote senior health programs in your community. For more information on National Senior Health & Fitness Day, click this link.
Until next time,