Newark, NJ -- Summer is heating up and so is the warm weather. The pleasant weather provides older adults with an opportunity to enjoy fresh air while participating in outdoor activities. In fact, it is recommended that older adults go out in the sunshine at least 20 minutes every day to help the body maintain its supply of vitamin D – a vitamin that improves the absorption and utilization of calcium, an element necessary to maintain strong bones and muscles.
Theresa Redling, DO, FACP, Chief of Division of Geriatric Medicine at Newark Beth Israel, an affiliate of the Saint Barnabas Health Care System, suggests the following activities for older adults who are in search of fun in the sun.
- Gardening - “Gardening can be a relaxing and rewarding activity, especially after you see the beautiful results of all your hard work,” says Redling. “But there are some ‘rules’ to follow before you dive into digging.” Knee pads or a pillow will absorb pressure on your knees if you must kneel to pull weeds or plant flowers. Also, make sure gardening equipment suits your size, build, and physical capabilities. If you suffer from arthritis in your hands, use garden tools with enlarged handles. Long handles on garden tools ease the strain on an arthritic back.
- Walking - “Walking, at any pace, strengthens the cardiovascular system, aids digestion, helps to reduce blood pressure and improves sleeping habits,” states Redling. It also plays a role in relieving the pain associated with arthritis by strengthening and relaxing muscles that protect joints.
- Relocate Activities - A great way to take advantage of pleasant weather is to move activities that you are accustomed to doing indoors, outside. “Read the morning paper in a lawn chair or have lunch on a park bench,” says Redling.
- The Beach - The Jersey Shore is an ideal location to spend a summer afternoon. The boardwalk is an excellent place to get exercise or simply sit back and soak in the sun while enjoying a snack.
It is important not only to enjoy an activity, but to do so safely. “Because heat exhaustion and heatstroke can strike quickly, it is important to protect yourself from the summer sun,” says Dr. Redling.
Her recommendation include drinking more non-caffeinated liquids, limiting your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours and protecting yourself from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. Many seniors also take medications that may also predispose to heat stroke and should check with their doctor.
“Having someone checking on older adults regularly who live alone in times of great heat is important, as seniors, especially frail elders, may not feel the effects of dehydration and heat exhaustion until it is too late,” Dr. Redling advises.
The Senior Health Network membership program at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center is a valuable free resource for adults ages 50 and older. The focus of the program is to educate seniors and encourage healthy lifestyles through various activities. Educational lectures, health screenings, support groups, exercise classes, continuing education courses and social activities are conveniently held at or nearby your local Saint Barnabas Health Care System facility. Members will receive a bi-monthly newsletter with a calendar of events. In addition senior membership allows members to access information regarding health insurance counseling, pharmaceutical discount programs and other information useful to remain independent in the community. To register or learn more, please call
Date: June 21, 2007
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