Dr. Giangregorio

Everyone loses muscle mass as they age. This is a fact we must face, Professor Lora Giangregorio stressed in her Coffee House Talk entitled “Exercise: The Key to Healthy Aging” at the Wilmot Centre on Wednesday, January 18. 

 As Schlegel Chair in Mobility and Aging at the University of Waterloo, Dr. Giangregorio and her research team have worked with  Osteoporosis Canada on research aimed to improve bone health and fall prevention in older adults.

As hikers, Avon Trail members who participate in trail hikes like the Tuesday Rambles are well on their way to achieving the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines target of 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous exercise. But, is this enough? 

“In Canada, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will develop osteoporosis over their lifetime”, she said. “And falls are the number one cause of injury and hospitalization, with 50% of falls occurring at home”.

Participating in an exercise program that improves your muscle strength and balance is an integral part of healthy aging. Exercise is crucial for people with arthritis, too. It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue.  Dr. Giangregorio advised setting goals like improving balance and strength and then finding exercises to follow to meet these goals.

She gave examples you can do at home. Practice sitting to standing from a chair repeatedly to build leg and core body strength. Do wall pushups, counter pushups, or floor pushups to build arm and core strength. You don’t need fancy weights. Practice lifting with household products – vinegar or water jugs. (for this story I found a link to exercises that you might like to consider).

Also suggested was a brain game (Clock Yourself) downloadable to a mobile device (for a small fee) from the app store. Clock Yourself combines cognitive and physical exercises simultaneously to prevent the cognitive and physical decline that comes with aging. If you want to find out more, click here.

Dr. Giangregorio fielded many questions from the full audience. She stressed that a diet should be used to control weight and that exercise is used to maintain and build strength. “People need 1.2 to  1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight” to build strength. She recommended that protein be included in all meals. (Here I have a link to a protein intake calculator guide).

Communities throughout Perth, Stratford and the greater Waterloo municipality offer exercise and fall prevention programs for seniors.

The Wilmot Active Living Center offers the SMART (seniors maintaining active roles together) gentle exercise program Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.  This program is designed for the practice of daily tasks from reaching to the top shelf to bending down to tie your shoes for stretching, lifting, and reaching, and helps maintain balance and coordination. All participants need an Active  Living Centre card to attend. For details click here.

For those living in the Stratford area, a low-impact fitness program for seniors is available. Click here for details.

The St. Marys Friendship Center offers falls preventions exercise programs to suit your abilities. If you are over 50, they are free. Click here for details.

Hiking helps stamina as we hikers know. But, a fuller aerobic strength program can offer even greater benefits over time as we age.


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