It is very easy to stay on automatic pilot and go through your day unaware of your eating, sleeping and exercise patterns. These are three areas that need reassessment periodically since lifestyles choices are some of the key components to successful aging and memory fitness.
When life gets busy, sometimes your intentions and exercise habits are not the way you meant for them to be. The bottom line is that paying attention to your choices is the first step in helping you to consider better options. Research certainly supports the benefits of aerobic activity for enhancing your memory. Exercise may also improve your night’s sleep and is a key component of stress management programs.
Could I exercise more? Of course. As a speech-language pathologist doing home health care, my car is my office and I walk from the car, sit down and do therapy and documentation then off to the next patient. Is this my excuse? Not really but it makes me more aware that I need to monitor the choices I make. So I put my walking shoes in my car and take advantage of driving to more rural areas at times where a 10 minute walk in a neighborhood provides me with exercise, fresh air and an opportunity to clear my head. I make sure I am not returning or making phone calls. This is also a mini time-out. On a beautiful fall day it is easy to go to a local park and enjoy the cooler temperatures and the changing foliage. It was not very inviting during the hot and humid days that we had in northeast Ohio this summer.
Sometimes I will visit someone in an apartment building, or a senior residence and I try to find a space farther away from the door so I get in some extra steps. The other day I stopped at the library and knew once I got home I would need to make dinner and do some paperwork. It was a beautiful day and I decided to go for a walk around town. Half an hour later, I was refreshed and felt better about my exercise commitment while on the go.
Not everyone is able to go for that daily walk, to a fitness center or take an exercise class. I remember when my mother moved from her home of 40 years to an apartment, I bought her a series of videotapes that promoted chair exercise but it really did not appeal to her. When she moved to an assisted living she even tried a few of the exercise classes but with her hearing loss, they quickly lost their appeal.
Recently I learned about a program created by another speech-language pathologist and it combines the benefits of exercise with those of yoga and can be done in a wheelchair. “WHOGA (Wellness, Happiness, Opportunity for Gentle Activity) is designed with underlying yogic principles and breathing techniques that move you to feeling your best. The specialized movements work to increase your strength, coordination, flexibility and mental awareness. A meditative practice, WHOGA enhances your ability to relax and ease physical discomfort.”
In some cases you may need to consult with your physician to see what recommendations might be most appropriate for your circumstances. Whatever your lifestyle choices, consider a quarterly reassessment in your progress to making a commitment to exercise a priority in your weekly routine.
He who would live long must sometimes change his way of living. Italian saying