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D.A.R.E. To Be 100 – Part 5

D.A.R.E. To Be 100 – Part 5

Dare to Be 100: Part 5. The “E” in D.A.R.E.

By Holly Lookabaugh-Deur, PT, DSc, GCS, CEEAA

Woo Hoo! This is the final article on “D.A.R.E. to be 100!” describing the detailed research and work of Dr. Walter Bortz II and his 100 tips to successful aging. After a lifetime of researching the growing number of centennials, people who live to 100 and beyond, he simplified his findings into 4 categories of life habits that are associated with graceful and happy aging. We have been exploring the acronym of D (Diet) A (Attitude) R (Renewal) and now we are the final chapter of the E of D.A.R.E. – and you can guess… it represents EXERCISE!

We are simply surrounded by the evidence about the critical role that exercise – I prefer the word MOVEMENT to exercise – plays in successful aging.

Retrospectively, exercise follows many fads, just like fashion and food, as people evolve, explore new things, and technology develops faster than we do. Everything seems “to come back around” as my grandfather always used to say. Think about disco dancing in the 70’s… and now Dancing with the Stars and Zumba dancing for fitness. Consider the onset of military-style calisthenics with no equipment in the 50’s gym classes….and now the Fitness Boot Camps.

Time for true confession – I have always struggled with creating time and attention to my own personal “exercise” prescription. It wasn’t until recently when attending a certification program on Exercise for Aging Adults that the light bulb fully lit up for me and my own personal journey. Movement – integrated into a different type of lifestyle – is the only way I can change my life moving forward. I have spent my entire career focused on helping other people feel, move, and live better, and along the way, I have taken my own health for granted. Being busy does not equal being ACTIVE. While I am always doing something…am I moving enough? Ask yourself that question. And instead of beating yourself up with more guilt and woulda shoulda coulda comments (don’t we have enough of that?) just let it go and say to yourself It is NEVER TOO LATE TO START MOVING. When you are 60 or 90, you can lay down, sit, stand, and walk – and start moving more.

The word EXERCISE almost makes us want to retreat and think “oh my, just one more thing to do…” “Not enough hours in the day”…”I am too old to start exercising at my age…”   So although Dr. Bortz is absolutely right about the benefits to successful aging – let go of the word “exercise” and embrace “movement.” Movement is a GOOD word! MOVEMENT gets you somewhere. We MOVE forward. When something touches our heart, it MOVES us. If we can make small changes in the amount and time we are moving during the day, research tells us we will make gains as much as if we set aside time to “exercise.”

Here’s what we know from Dr. Bortz about the “E” in Dare to be 100: THE FINAL of his recommended 99 steps to living successfully to be a centennial!

Step 72: Steps for the woman
Step 73: Steps for the man

*Dr. Bortz outlines the differences for men and women, but in general focus on 10,000 steps a day – use your phone, a pedometer, or Fitbit or similar type of calculator throughout your day. After dinner, depending on how many steps you have, plan to walk until you hit 10,000. Start small – maybe 5,000 a day and increase 10,000 a month. You can do it!

Step 74: Keep in rhythm – swing those arms and use music to get yourself moving!
Step 75: Know how hard, how long, how often to exercise  – seek advice from your physician, a physical therapist, an exercise physiologist, athletic trainer or personal trainer. The last thing you want to do is to hurt yourself or be so miserable that you don’t keep moving! Help is all around you!
Step 76: Realize it’s never too late.
Step 77: Make time for exercise.
Step 78: When tired, exercise.
Step 79: Don’t fear exercise.
Step 80: It’s ok to be sore  – muscle soreness shouldn’t last more than a day or two. Joint pain is a no-no. New pain should always to be reported to your health provider.
Step 81: Watch your fuel gauge  – don’t start a big movement session something good in your belly!
Step 82: Learn with what and when to fuel the exercise  – again, look for advice if this is new to you.
Step 83: Keep your oxygen tanks full – deep, effective breathing is everything when you exercise and move!
Step 84: Make exercise your circulation’s best friend – try moving in standing/walking, and then lay down and put your legs up for ankle pumps to really get the blood pooling in your feet and ankles back in action. Your legs will love you.
Step 85: Be strong. 8 – 12 reps of lifting soup cans in all directions can keep you toned. Strong muscles lead to strong bones, too.
Step 86: Stay loose. Stretch gently at least twice a week – focus on your neck, trunk – ROTATION is what we lose first as we age.
Step 87: Stay balanced. Stimulate your natural balance reactions as a part of fall prevention for sure. Turn your head when you are walking. Practice standing on one foot for 10 seconds.
Step 88: Stand straight. We all start to bend forward as we age. Try pretending a string is pulling you up by the top of your head. You will even breathe easier!
Step 89: Work dem bones! Just tightening muscles without moving helps our bones be stronger. Stair climbing is a great way to combat osteoporosis.
Step 90: Respect your back. Disc problems are rare in older adults, but pinched nerves and stenosis are common. Lay on your back with your knees bent and slowly rock your knees from side to side and relax at the end of the movement. Your back will love you.
Step 91: Honor your neck. We are SO hard on our necks! Start with gentle rotation as far as you can in each direction and hold it. Do this every day!
Step 92: Keep breathing!
Step 93: Use your brain – cognitive function improves with exercise!
Step 94: Chase the blues – exercise and movement are natural ways to increase endorphins and improve mood and combat depression
Step 95: Be sexy, be fit  – Fit people have more energy to be amorous too!
Step 96: Avoid the big C — exercise is risk factor reducing for all sorts of cancers.
Step 97: Walk away from infection – People who move have improved immune systems and keep the infections at bay
Step 98: Know that aging is incurable – embrace it and keep moving!
Step 99: You don’t have to win – What you do and how you move is personal and specific to YOU. You don’t need to be in a race with anyone. Just do it – whatever keeps you moving – at any level.

Celebrate your successes and reward yourself for making small changes. Keep track of your progress on your refrigerator – and if you achieve a goal, do something new – a drive along the lake and have a picnic, spend a whole day doing exactly what you want to do, go to a favorite restaurant with a friend, buy new shoes…whatever small things that you can do just for yourself.

I am privileged to know and meet new older adults every day. I am so inspired by their wisdom and perspective, their sense of “self” and sense of humor, and the contributions and joy they bring to others. Dare to be 100! We need you in this world!

– Holly

For Parts 1-4 of Holly’s D.A.R.E. To Be 100 series, head to the News and Events page.

Holly is a Board-Certified Geriatric Physical Therapist, a Certified Exercise Expert for Aging Adults, and an advocate for anyone who needs help to feel better! Holly’s philosophy is that aging doesn’t have to be a bad thing! You can grow old gracefully AND in good health! Head over to her bio page for her contact information if you’d like to reach out.