Today my sister, Janette, and I finally squared off on the Pickleball court. Actually, it was a tennis court, and it was slick in some places because of the rain, so we played with caution. But I have been wanting to try this out for some time since I have been watching people play and it looks relatively easy. All you need is short paddles and a wiffle ball - I kid you not.
I have to say it was lots of fun and gave us a great workout. After an hour of this, we were both red in the face, sweaty and ready for a sit-down. And we both agreed we should do this more often as it felt so good to move. I plan to start a pick up group of interested Pickleballers from Healthy Mount Holly and look forward to hearing from you in the meetup.
Which brings me to the topic of the day – exercise and what we are finding out about the benefits of continuing to work out as we get older. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) seniors should look to get 150 minutes of exercise each week, preferably those that help maintain flexibility, strength and balance. Walking, cycling, swimming, Zumba and yes, Pickleball are all acceptable exercises to do, at least 5 times per week. The good news is this can be broken into fifteen minute or half hour increments, if you are time pressed.
I have a habit of walking after work most days for about a half an hour and I have to say it not only works off some calories, it also clears my mind and relieves any tensions I might have from work. My trick is to pack a change of clothes and shoes and bring them into my office each day – the guilt alone makes me change and commit to my walk at the end of the day. Many of you know because you have joined me, I lead a meetup walking group and once a month, as part of the national Everwalk initiative to get people moving, we hit the county parks for a walk. I am really looking forward to these walks now that the weather is getting cooler.
Strength training is also crucial to stave off our deteriorating muscle mass, with the additional benefit of keeping our minds sharp. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends weight training for all ages, especially after 50, because it is important to maintain our muscle mass as we age, to combat balance issues and maintain our independence as we age. A University of Vermont study found that seniors living in a nursing home increased their muscle strength 180% after eight weeks of weight training. I strongly encourage you to try strength training for endurance, preventing broken bones, easing arthritis pain, maintaining weight, increased glucose control and better sleep. A bonus of weight training is that it is easy to do at home, with minimal cost, and maximum benefit, without a gym membership.
If you need more convincing, there is a woman who is in her 80’s rocking the weightlifting and she looks amazing. Google Ernestine Shepherd and you will see what I mean. She is 83 years old, and until recently was a competitive bodybuilder in her age group. She looks great for any age group! And the most amazing thing is that she started working out when she was 56 years old. Wait, she and her sister started working out together…I see a pattern here, don’t you LOL?
In this week’s Thriving Women Series part two at the Maple Shade Library and the Burlington County Main Library I will be covering food and fitness and how to manage both as our bodies age and change. I look forward to sharing more of what I know about eating well and working out to help you transform or maintain your body as you power into your next chapter. And don’t forget to stop by and see my new spot next Saturday, September 21, during Hollystock Music and Arts Festival. It’s rockin’!