I believe quality living and successful aging exists in the synergy between maintaining the fitness of our brain, body, and balance. For many years we have known the value of exercise for our physical health. Exercise can reduce the incidence of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression, and many types of cancer. However, there is increasing evidence that what is good for our body is also good for our brain. Starting at age 40 we lose on average 5% of our overall brain volume per decade. However, regular exercise at any age can improve both the structure and the function of the brain. In fact, individuals who are physically active demonstrate a lower risk of dementia than individuals who are sedentary. The good news is that even individuals who were not previously active can improve their cognitive functioning after as little as four months of exercise.
I am also interested in how body and brain fitness influence balance as we age. This became important to me at the age of 48 when I began working with a personal trainer because I had developed some discomfort in my low back and hip. When she asked me to perform some simple balance activities I was in disbelief at the difficulty I had with the exercises. I also did not realize that one side of my body was considerably weaker than the other side. I left that first exercise session thinking, “Whose body is this?” I was an athlete in high school and college! This is not how I remember my body's ability to move. Although I stayed active by participating in outdoor activities such as golfing, hiking, and biking, on that day she challenged muscles that I had not used in years. These were the same muscles that will provide the foundation for balance and mobility as I age. I then realized, “I am not even 50 years old. If I don't do something now, what will my life be like when I am 80 years old?”
As I began reading more about aging, I realized that my concern was valid. One out of three older adults (age 65 years or older) experience a fall each year. Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. Of those elderly who experience a hip fracture, 20% will die within one year. But once again there is some good news. Exercise can also slow, and possibly reverse, some of the age related changes that cause a decline in our balance and mobility. After my wake-up call that day with my personal trainer, I began to approach exercise differently. My cardiovascular exercise isn't just about weight maintenance and heart health anymore. It is also about pumping blood and oxygen to the brain to strengthen its vascular system and to promote the growth of new neurons. My weight training isn't about trying to sculpt my muscles for sexier legs or flatter abs. My weight training is about strengthening both my muscles and my bones so I have the foundation for a lifetime of mobility and independence.
Regardless of a person's age, successful aging is influenced by the choices made today. I am interested in educating and motivating the attendees of your event to improve their quality of living now and as the age. My presentation style is to have audience members interact with me as I present entertaining and informative facts about wellness and aging.
My mission is for each member of your event to leave my presentation with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to live a more active and engaged life.