During the month of May, VA is celebrating both Older Americans and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. We want to bring awareness to the importance of promoting and increasing physical fitness among older Veterans with this year’s theme “Never 2 Old 2 Get Fit.”

As we grow older, an active lifestyle is more important than ever. Regular exercise can help manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as boost one’s energy. Exercise can reverse some of the symptoms of aging. Exercise is also great for the mind, mood, and memory.

Veterans like 91-year-old John Knight are staying active as they age. Knight, who goes to the Greater Los Angeles VA, performs push-ups for VA’s Gerofit/Go4Life program honoring physical activity for Older Adults Month. The photo on the right is Knight at 44 years old, performing a free-arm planche on Muscle Beach, Santa Monica. He does not look much different now at age 91.

In addition to Gerofit, VA has the MOVE! Weight Management Program to encourage healthy eating behavior and increasing physical activity. Living a healthier lifestyle can have effects on reducing health risks, preventing or reducing certain diseases, and improving quality-of-life and longevity. Check out some tips below on how to stay active and healthy as you age.

Physical Health Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults

  • Exercise improves strength, flexibility, and posture, which in turn will help with balance, coordination, and reducing the risk of falls.
  • Exercise can improve immune function, blood pressure, bone density and digestive functioning.
  • Exercise can lower the risk of several chronic conditions including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and certain cancers

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise in Older Americans

  • Exercise can improve your sleep which is important for overall health.
  • Exercise is a huge stress reliever and the endorphins released can help reduce feeling of sadness, depression, or anxiety
  • Exercise is good for the brain which can aid in the prevention of memory loss, cognition decline, and dementia.

Tips for Starting A Fitness Program

  • Get medical clearance before starting an exercise program.
  • Ask if there are any activities to avoid
  • Consider health concerns
  • Start slow
  • Commit to an exercise schedule
  • Stay motivated

Talk with your VA health care provider to learn how to become more active and start living a healthier lifestyle.

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Published on May. 12, 2016

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  1. Jose Llamas May 18, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    The VA also hosts the National Veterans Golden Age Games, an annual event that is the premier senior adaptive rehabilitation program in the United States, and the only national multi-event sports and recreational seniors’ competition program designed to improve the quality of life for all older Veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. The Games are open to Veterans, ages 55 or older, who receive health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Celebrating its 30th year, this years Games will have over 800 Veterans who will compete in Detroit, Michigan July 10-14. Although registration for this years Games is closed, you can get more information at http://www.veteransgoldenagegames.va.gov to get involved next year.

  2. Pamela Kelly May 13, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    I have the same problem, I go when the gym is the quietest, with my boyfriend, and I use the treadmill that is placed directly in front of a big mirror. I’ve also a problem with balance, so I hang onto the bars when I do those peripheral checks, (I’m losing some peripheral vision). I’d love to have my own treadmill, but on my disability income I can’t rent a place big enough to fit one. Besides, if I did have one at home I would never learn to step outside my comfort zone and get better. I suggest a gym buddy and finding out when your gyms quietest hours are.

  3. Herbert Rudolph Domino May 13, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I’m a 55 year old disabled veteran with PTSD rated at 100%. I have a problem with being around others but need to say in shape for health reasons, is it anyway I can get assistance in attaining treadmill so I can work out in the comfort of my own home?

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