In honor of National Senior Health Fitness Day on May 29, we’re taking a look at ways you can up your fitness game, along with a few easy steps you can take to live a more health-conscious lifestyle. It’s never too early for preventative measures, and you can never be too proactive or too aware when it comes to maintaining your health as you age. May and June offer several national awareness months dedicated to informing you about potential health risks, so take a look at what some of our San Jacinto College faculty suggest when it comes to keeping in tune with your body.
National Senior Health Fitness Day (5/29)
It’s time to get active!
Often, seniors’ primary health focus is on biomedical markers like blood pressure or glucose levels, but seniors should also be aware of their movement as they approach their overall health and living an active, healthy lifestyle.
- 1. Have a trainer administer a movement screen. This series of physical tests provide data related to joint range of motion, stability, and muscular imbalances. Afterward, the trainer can design a program that includes corrective or functional exercises
- 2. Working out doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym. Activities like biking, gentle yoga, swimming, and even walking around your neighborhood park can increase your overall health without feeling like a chore.
- 3. Finding a few friends for activities or joining a fitness group can help turn physical activity into a social outing and increase accountability. The more, the merrier!
- -Trenton Denton, Professor, Physical Education
American Stroke Awareness Month
Spot a stroke F.A.S.T.
Stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide according to the American Stroke Association, but the good news is that it’s preventable, treatable, and beatable. By taking a proactive approach to your overall health, your risk of stroke can be drastically reduced.
- 1. Seek immediate medical help if you or someone you know are experiencing the F.A.S.T. symptoms: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.
- 2. Don’t forget to take your medications! If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, or diabetes, you are at greater risk of a stroke, so managing these conditions will help mitigate the risk.
- 3. Living tobacco-free can also reduce your risk of stroke and other serious health issues. Try to avoid secondhand smoke as well if you aren’t a smoker yourself.
- -Sylvia Gallegos, Program Director, Emergency Medical Technology
Arthritis Awareness Month
Healthy muscles mean healthy joints
More than 100 types of arthritis exist, and while the condition is quite common, each case can be complex. While the condition is more prominent in women and those with a genetic risk factor, arthritis can happen to anyone at any age, even children.
- 1. Be particularly aware if you’ve had old athletic injuries or accidents, as these can predispose you to arthritis later in life.
- 2. Keep the muscles around your joints strong with light exercise to optimize joint alignment and reduce pain.
- 3. Maintaining a healthy weight with smart eating habits and an active lifestyle will help reduce the stress on your joints and reduce your risk of developing arthritis.
- -Dr. Susan Hinson, Program Director, Physical Therapist Assistant
Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month
Keep your SPF handy
Caused by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds, skin cancer is the most common and most preventable type of cancer in the country. Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent, detect, and treat the condition.
- 1. Always remember your sunscreen. Whether you’re spending a day at the beach or just going for a stroll through the park, never forget to protect your skin with SPF, hats, and clothing.
- 2. Perform regular checks over your entire body for early detection. Your dermatologist can also help with regular body checks.
- 3. Alert your physician if you have suspicious spots, sores that don’t heal, or changes in moles or freckles. Taking a “better safe than sorry” approach to suspicious spots can make all the difference if it leads to early detection.
- -Carla Ruffins, Program Director, Cancer Data Management
Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month
Mental health is a top priority
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, affecting 1 in 3 seniors. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia, but early detection can allow for treatment options to help slow the disease’s progression.
- 1. Early detection is key, but only 16 percent of seniors are regularly screened for Alzheimer’s. Make sure you are being proactive about your mental health.
- 2. Studies have shown that simple mental exercises like crossword puzzles, games, and learning new hobbies can sharpen mental acuity and reduce the risk of cognitive regression later in life.
- 3. Heed the advice and concerns of friends and family who may notice symptoms you might otherwise brush off, like consistently misplacing things, getting lost, trouble with writing, inability to learn new tasks, mood swings, social withdrawal, or poor judgement.
- -Carol Pool, Professor, Associate Degree Nursing Program