Exercise ClassAs we age, the natural tendency is to become more sedentary and less physically active.  Sometimes a fear of falling or getting hurt holds us back from getting the exercise we need. Ironically, sedentary people are at higher risk for injury and chronic illness, especially when weight is an issue.

Fitness programs that are proven to work for adults over 50 are a great solution because they help people get and stay physically active, without fear.

This very topic was one of many issues discussed among the several thousand scientists and researchers at the Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) 2011 annual conference. James Teufel, PhD, Oasis Director of Health Programs, presented an evaluation of “Exerstart for Lay Leaders” at GSA showing how it has helped participants improve their strength, energy level and overall fitness.

Fitness among older adults is a critical issue today. Chronic illnesses caused by inactivity and obesity will be a huge driver of health care costs and reduced quality of life as the baby boomer generation ages. To improve health for this large population, we must offer effective programs that help people be more physically active.

Exerstart is an evidence-based, low-impact Oasis program that is facilitated by lay leaders. It has been successful in urban and rural settings and works both as a standalone and as part of the Active Start program to help people make physical activity part of their daily routine.

The results? Participants significantly improved their perceived health, fitness, endurance, muscle tone, energy level, and physical ability to complete everyday tasks. Beyond perceived improvements, participants objectively improved their functional fitness (i.e., strength, endurance, flexibility, and mobility), and decreased their body mass index.

ExerStart and Active Start are  promising ways to improve fitness over 50 and keep people well. To learn more, visit oasisnet.org/health.