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According to the American College of Sports Medicine, by the year 2030, the number of individuals in the United States 65 years and over will reach 70 million, and people 85 years and older will be the fastest growing segment of the population.

Studies have shown that exercise provides many health benefits for older adults. The American Col-lege of Sports Medicine states that even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or who have diseases that accompany aging. Exercise classes are available Monday through Friday at the center.

-Staff Photos by Chris Barstad

With people enjoying a longer life span, exercise is vital in enjoying a long and healthy lifestyle.

Studies have shown that exercise provides many health benefits and that older adults can gain a lot by staying physically active. The American College of Sports Medicine states that even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or who have diseases that accompany aging.

Being physically active can improve one’s health and help to maintain independence and a healthy quality of life as you age.


Benefits of being active

According to the National Health Institute, there are several benefits of exercise for older citizens.

Stay active. According to the National Health Institute, regular physical activity and exercise are important to the physical and mental health of almost everyone, including older adults. Staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits and even improve health for some older people who already have diseases and disabilities. That’s why health experts say that older adults should aim to be as active as possible.

Inactivity can be risky. Although exercise and physical activity are among the healthiest things you can do for yourself, some older adults are reluctant to exercise. Some are afraid that exercise will be too hard or that physical activity will harm them. The NHI states that a lack of physical activity can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.

Disease Prevention. Scientists have found that staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities, according to the National Institute on Aging. In some cases, the NIH states that exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions.  Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems, or difficulty walking.

Manage Stress, Improve Mood. The NIH states that regular, moderate physical activity can help manage stress and improve your mood. Being active on a regular basis may help reduce

Tullahoma Senior Center member Jane Smith explains the importance of keeping healthy at any age. Smith is the former education leader who led one of the center’s exercise classes for 11 years.

feelings of depression. Studies with the institute also suggest that exercise can improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information.

Some people may wonder what the difference is between physical activity and exercise. Physical activities are activities that get your body moving such as gardening, walking the dog and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise is a form of physical activity that is specifically planned, structured, and repetitive such as weight training, tai chi, or an aerobics class. Including both in your life will provide you with health benefits that can help you feel better and enjoy life more as you age.


Getting fit locally


Seniors and older adults are able to maintain a healthy lifestyle locally thanks to the Coffee County Senior Center.

According to the CCSC director Vickie Fulmer, the center hosts a number of free activities that seniors 50 and up can enjoy each week.

“We have classes Monday through Friday and offer something for all exercise levels. All classes are free to the seniors,” she said.

Fulmer added that the center has seen an increase in the number of seniors taking advantage of the free fitness classes.

Sue Wilkins stretches during a morning exercise class at the Tullahoma Senior Center. All exercise class are free and open to participants ages 50 and over.

“We have seen a growing number of people coming in to work out with us which we are thrilled about,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to see people come in and enjoy getting healthy. They really do make a commitment to come and hold each other accountable as well to attend on a regular basis. It’s a great way for them not only to keep healthy, but to build comradery as well.”

Center classes include line dancing, walking and table tennis.

“We also have employees from the Life Care Center and Lynchburg Nursing Home come twice a week to conduct exercise classes,” said Fulmer. “We are so lucky to have these ladies take time out of their busy schedules to work with us. They really enjoy working with the seniors, and the seniors enjoy both them and the classes.”

The Life Care Center hosts an exercise class at 9 a.m. each Thursday and at Lynchburg Nursing Home at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

The Coffee County Senior Center is located at 410 N. Collins St. For more information, call 455-2504.

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