By Carissa Norman and Rachel Gaffney, Inner Athlete Fitness Studio, Mill Creek.
Older Americans Month was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. At that time only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthdays. Today that number is 41.4 million and growing. The fastest growing segment of our population is adults 85 and older. And Baby Boomers have been turning 65 years old at a rate of 10,000 per day since 2011.
Every President since JFK has issued a formal proclamation during the month of May asking that the nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities and provide them with information to help them stay healthy and active. This year, the focus is on injury prevention with the theme Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.
Older adults are at a much higher risk of unintentional injury and even death than the rest of the population. Unintentional injuries are the 5th leading cause of death for people 65 and older, resulting in more than 30,000 deaths and at least 6 million medically treated injuries every year. With a focus on safety during Older Americans Month, the national plan is to use this opportunity to raise awareness about this critical issue. By taking control of their safety, older Americans can live longer, healthier lives. One easy and fun way to do that is through regular physical activity and good nutrition.
Everett resident Wayne Wilson is 84 years old and a great example of an older American who is taking back control of his own safety through lifestyle changes, especially through regular exercise and nutrition, ensuring himself and his family that he’ll live longer and healthier. Exercise can contribute to prevention of disease and chronic health conditions, as well as improved balance, cognition, hearing and vision, all factors in staying safe and preventing injury.
Wayne’s story is a common one:
“You know you work all your life, I was in the military for 20 years, worked for Boeing for a short while, then I went to community college and got a degree in landscape maintenance and worked for the Edmonds School district in ground maintenance for 20 years. My jobs were always active. I was into cycling and at age 65 I did the Seattle to Portland bike race. My wife and I had a place over on the Olympic Peninsula and we moved there permanently in 1990. Our home was on acreage and I developed and maintained it every day.
“Then my wife Pat became ill and I took care of her for five years. I was so involved with her care it was tough for me to get out and do anything. Sometimes, I barely had time to walk up and down the hall. She wouldn’t have wanted it that way but that’s just the way it happened.
“After she passed, for the first time in my life I didn’t have a job. I didn’t really have a purpose in my life and I realized I had really let myself go. I was overweight, I walked with a cane and it was hard to go up and down stairs.”
Wayne was encouraged by his daughter Sherry to make some purposeful lifestyle changes, which started with regular physical activity. Wayne has been working with a personal trainer. This began with an assessment which included his weight and a series of measurements, as well as an exercise review to determine abilities and limitations, followed by an honest discussion about goals.
Over the past year, Wayne has consistently lost weight, gained muscle, balance, confidence and a renewed sense of pride
“I knew I was going downhill physically. I know as you get older it’s easy to sit and watch the world go by. At that point I needed to be aggressive about getting going on something physical and I wanted someone to be accountable to, to make me do it every week. You know, if you have that, you feel guilty if you don’t work out. I wanted to feel an inner obligation to do this,” reflects Wayne.
“I like that each time you work with a trainer, you go through an organized and supervised routine. It’s all set up just for you. All you have to do is well just do it! If you try to this on your own you won’t be as intense or as regular. Working with a trainer makes you do it the right way. It’s also a nice facility with a lot of equipment to keep you motivated and challenged.”
Wayne’s advice to someone like himself who once felt limited by age, lack of fitness and confidence? “Quit lyin’ to yourself –write down what you do and what you eat. I highly recommend a personal trainer. It’s a lot easier to figure out when you have someone to tell you what you should do and make you feel accountable.”
ABOUT INNER ATHLETE FITNESS STUDIO: Do you want to look and feel better, and have more energy? We focus on five areas for life-changing results: nutrition, strength, cardio, supplementation and step-by-step coaching and support. Visit our website at innerathlete.co or call us at 425.338.0214 to set up a free fitness consultation.