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Move More Awareness: Embracing Movement for Healthy Aging and Independent Living

What better time than the present to incorporate more movement into your life? Every April, the American Heart Association promotes and encourages people of all ages to move more. As you age, the foundation of health and wellness depends on many factors- diet, socializing, managing chronic health conditions, and movement.  Movement could be the underpinning of all the other lifestyle factors. Let’s review the value of movement, how senior independent living can reinforce movement, and how to get started.

First, let’s define movement. There is a reason the American Heart Association selected the word “movement” over “exercise.” Exercise can be intimidating, but any kind of movement is beneficial. For example, yoga, Tai Chi, walking, water aerobics, golfing, bocce ball, and gardening all have value. Now, let’s discuss the remarkable benefits of movement.

Improved Heart Health

Heart health has wide-reaching implications for health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US. Exercise lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, and enhances immune function, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Exercise lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, strengthens the heart muscle, and improves blood sugar.

Functional Independence

Every daily action requires strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance. In other words, to stay independent, you must work on increasing and maintaining your functional abilities. Bathing, dressing, walking, going from sitting to standing, and cooking all require functional independence. Different types of movement challenge your body to adapt and improve. If you should have an accident or illness, the more fit you are, the better your recovery will be.

Fall Prevention

The startling fact is that falls over the age of 65 are the leading cause of death-related injuries. Also, falls can cause significant disability even after recovery. Poor balance, weakness, and loss of muscle mass all contribute. Osteoporosis is a risk factor for breaking a bone during a fall, and weight-bearing exercises have been shown to improve bone density.

Sharpened Mood and Cognition

Movement of all kinds can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Physical activity can increase blood flow to the brain and promote the growth of new brain cells. Research suggests that moderate exercise can improve memory and cognitive flexibility.


The beauty of 55+ Living is that social engagement is readily available. Loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for depression and anxiety and can exacerbate medical conditions. Group classes are a terrific way to achieve both movement and socialization.

Higher Quality Sleep

Staying active during the day can help you sleep better at night. Adequate sleep clears toxins from the brain and can improve memory. Sleep gives you the energy and drive to achieve your goals.

Reducing Inflammation

Chronic inflammation has been implicated in diseases such as cancer, dementia, diabetes, and heart disease.  Regular exercise has anti-inflammatory effects on the body, reducing systemic inflammation and lowering the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.

How Senior Independent Living Promotes Movement

Senior Independent Living could be the perfect place to start or enhance your movement. For example, The Chateau at Highlands community has an outdoor pool,  community gardens, yoga, and fitness classes. The freedom and opportunity that independent living offers are the perfect environment to sample classes, spend time outdoors, and not worry about household responsibilities. Here are the ways senior independent living promotes movement:

  • Accessible designs such as wide hallways, elevators, and pathways encourage safe movement.
  • Fitness facilities promote independent exercise at a time of your choosing
  • Wellness programs such as health screenings and exercise classes empower residents to engage in movement. Instructor-led classes can be a great way to gain confidence and feel safe.
  • The goal of senior independent living is to enhance and maintain the well-being of residents.
  • Outdoor spaces encourage safe and enjoyable walking with plants and adequate lighting for evening strolls.

Tips on Getting Started

It is never too late to get started increasing your movement. Some tips:

  • Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise.
  • Start slowly and build up through time. Remember that any movement is beneficial.
  • Try a variety of classes and activities. You never know what might pique your interest. If you are interested in a class that isn’t available, speak with the activities director about adding a class. Chances are others will be interested as well.
  • Keep a journal which can help you track your progress.
  • Find other residents to plan activities with. Doing things together can be reinforcing and more fun!

Maintaining Independence with Support

The beauty of senior independent living is the freedom to have privacy and the availability of supportive services to encourage health and well-being. However, it is your responsibility to take advantage of everything that senior living has to offer. Your heart and health will thank you.

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