Spectrum Healthcare Partners

stretching cat

Moving naturally is good for us, but what exactly does it mean to move naturally? It’s pretty simple. It’s what you already do on any given day. For instance, maybe when you first wake up you like to stretch like a contented cat. It includes walking up and down stairs, from your house to your car and from your car to your office, the store, or wherever. Working in the garden, mowing the lawn, playing with your kids or grandkids. Running, hiking, skiing, swimming. When you think about it, there are lots of ways we move naturally. The more we do it, the better.

My challenge — and I’m certain I’m not alone — is to not sit in front of the computer for too long. I sometimes set a timer to jolt me out of my chair. My husband usually parks as far away from the grocery store as he can to get in extra steps. What are your suggestions for adding extra steps or movements?

Moving naturally should also involve using our muscles. As I think over what I’ve done today, the heaviest thing I’ve lifted (so far) is my laptop case, which also held two books, charge cables and pens. Actually, I can add my purse along with a small rug and medium-sized vase that I bought at a church fair this morning (yes, they were impulse buys). When I got home this afternoon, I carried everything in at once — a few feet from my car to the house.

I do usually get to the gym twice a week to do strength training with Andy Wight, so bravo for me on that score. I was just reading about a study on strength training and longevity done at Penn State in 2016. Researchers found that “Older adults who met twice-weekly strength-training guidelines had lower odds of dying.” That is very hopeful news, considering I’d like to live to be 100 (with brain, etc. in good working order.)

Now, that was just one study, but others have shown that strength training may help lower the risk for several health conditions, including diabetes and obesity. My own personal experience has shown that since I started working out I have more endurance, self-confidence and energy. I realize that not everyone can or wants to go to a gym. For me, it’s motivating.

Patty Medina exercising

Speaking of motivating, Patty Medina is someone who has been motivating people to exercise for the past 35 years. “It’s so important, she says. “The thing is if you’re doing a lot of sit down crossword puzzles there’s no body-mind connection. Your muscles are not learning how to move and they atrophy. We work on changing bad habits, keeping good alignment, good posture, keeping muscles flexible and strong so they don’t tighten up, and getting the blood flowing.”

Patty teaches a class for seniors at the People’s United Methodist Church in South Portland. It is a large and loyal group. There may be a similar group in your community. If not, maybe someone could start one?

Diane Atwood hoola hoop

If you’re not getting the exercise you need by “moving naturally” check out some of my previous posts for inspiration — go dancing, try pilatesyoga, t’ai chi, take up hula hooping. Physical therapist Mike Moras recently passed along several exercise tips for people of all ages. It’s amazing how much is out there if you look. You might find the perfect New Year’s resolution!

How do you keep active? If you’re struggling, what might be helpful?