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Holiday gifts that make healthy living fun B

uying holiday gifts can be a dif- ficult task. Why not select a gift that will help your loved one

lead a healthier life? Keeping healthy, strong and flexible

is crucial to seniors for maintaining their inde- pendence. Healthy eat- ing, physical activity and injury

prevention are

three determinants that play key roles in healthy aging. Here are seven suggestions for gifts to promote healthy living: 1. Pedometer. A pe- dometer is a small, in- expensive

device that

counts the number of steps walked per day. Research has shown that the use of a pedom- eter is associated with significant increases in physical activi- ty, with weight loss and with improve- ments in blood pressure. 2. IPod or other music device. Having music or an electronic book can help a person pass the time when exercising and therefore increase the length of time of physical activity. The iPod shuffle and similar devices are light and relatively inexpensive, and clip onto a belt or pair of pants so they do not get in the way.

Janet Cranston Fit for Life

3. Good comfortable shoes. As feet age, they lose fat padding and grow wider and longer. When this happens they absorb less shock, which can make feet sore and uncomfortable. Proper fitting shoes are very important. Find a retailer that fits shoes by slipping them on and lacing them up. Since feet come in different widths, options for ex- tra narrow and extra wide footwear should be available. 4.

Fitness centre

membership. A mem- bership to a fitness cen- tre is great for motiva- tion, accountability and socialization. Choose a centre that has qualified staff that will prescribe

the correct exercises and help out when needed. 5. Yoga mat. Yoga is great for core strength, flexibility and stress reduc- tion. Yoga can be done at home using a video or in a studio. Either way it is best to have your own yoga mat. 6. Resistance bands. Resistance bands are inexpensive, very effective and small, for easy transportation in a bag or suitcase. Resistance bands are used for strength training without the

iPods or any other music device can help make exercise more enjoyable. Photo courtesy of Apple Inc.

use of weights and are good for a full body workout. There are some great videos on the Internet showing full body workouts using these resistance bands.

7. Healthy living books. Two great books by Ruth Ann Carpenter make being physically active and eating healthy seem simple: Active Living Every Day. This book outlines a step-by-step plan for build- ing a healthier life. With Active Living Every Day, readers learn how enjoyable

physical activity can be – even for in- dividuals who have never been active before, – and how easy it is to add ac- tivity to each day.

Healthy Eating Every Day. This book teaches how to improve health and quality of life through balanced eating! Healthy Eating Every Day is a unique, self-paced plan that

teaches readers

how to improve their eating habits in ways that fit their lifestyle.

Janet Cranston is director of health and fitness at Reh-Fit Centre.

Here’s an exercise regime that’s fit to be tried 250 million people worldwide are practicing yoga today. The list of benefits is long, increasing strength, balance & flexibility.

ois Abraham used to do ballet in her younger years, and like so many retired older adults, she was looking for something to do in her leisure time that not only kept her active but was also good for her. Lois is one of the founding members of Pembina Active Liv- ing 55+, a non-profit, seniors organization in South Winnipeg com- mitted to enhancing the lives of older adults. One of the first sessions Lois wanted to see of- fered through PAL 55+ was a weekly yoga class. Six years later, she still attends the class. Popularity keeps growing


The practice of yoga has become increasingly

popular worldwide, with an estimated 250 million yoga practitioners across the globe. Here at home, approximate- ly 1.4 million Canadians participate in some form of yoga and these numbers

are growing every year. It’s become a booming business as well, with yoga studios popping up all over the city and yoga apparel brands like Lulule- mon reaping the financial rewards of the popular trend. Yoga is renowned for its therapeutic health benefits, and many fit- ness facilities now offer classes, including some seniors organizations like PAL 55+. “Yoga has become a very im- portant part of my life,” Lois


Krystal Simpson Healthy Living

“It has in-

creased my strength, co- ordination, balance and flexibility. It is also very calming and reduces stress.”

Exercise is an impor-

tant part of any healthy- aging strategy, and yoga

is a great, low-impact alternative to more vigorous activities like jogging or weight-lifting. The gentle stretch- ing of various yoga poses can also in- crease your flexibility, which in turn

helps your joints move fluidly through their full range of motion.

While research into yoga is relative- ly new and somewhat limited, there are some proven health benefits. Ac- cording to an article in the Health & Fitness Journal of Canada, research suggests yoga is effective in lowering blood pressure, aiding in weight loss, reducing chronic lower back pain, re- lieving stress and anxiety and improv- ing one’s overall quality of life. There are many different styles of yoga – what style is right for you re- ally depends on what you want out of the class at and how experienced you are. Whether it’s relaxation and stress reduction, improved balance and flex- ibility or a rigorous, flow-style yoga workout, there is a class to suit every- one. If it’s something you’ve always wanted to try but have thought, “I’m too old for yoga” – think again. Larry Isacoff teaches yoga for PAL

55+ and he affirms that you can do yoga at any age. “It’s important to start at the beginner level and get a feel for your body again. Yoga is very adapt- able, and we can use a lot of props like

towels or blocks to make sure the pos- es are accessible to everyone.” Larry says there is a student in one of his classes who uses a walker and is on oxygen. He modifies the poses for her. “She does everything from a chair and we are still able to increase flex- ibility.” If you are trying yoga for the first time, Larry has some practical tips. “I would not recommend hot yoga,” he says. “Look for an instructor who has experience working with older adults and is certified in alignment poses. “Ask them questions: if you had a

hip replacement, for example, ask the instructor how they would accom- modate something like that. It’s also a good idea to consult your doctor or health care professional before em- barking on any new form of exercise.” Benefits felt early

It doesn’t take students long to reap

the therapeutic benefits of yoga; you can feel them even after the first class. “Yoga takes you out of that cerebral space and moves you into a more thoughtful space. Focusing on one breath at a time, you become aware of where you are in the present moment – not worrying about the grocery list or what needs to get done later today,” Larry explains. Restorative yoga poses also create energy rather than expend- ing it, and students leave the class feel- ing refreshed. PAL 55+ has been offering seniors’ yoga in South Winnipeg since 2010. The program has grown considerably, and they now have five classes a week, including an intermediate class. You do not need to be a member to register for a yoga class, but membership offers reduced rates on programming. PAL 55+ has several funding part- ners, including the Winnipeg Region- al Health Authority. Larry Iscoff also trains and teaches at Winnipeg Yoga Centre. For more information, you’re invited to visit Krystal Simpson is a communications

officer at Victoria Lifeline, a not-for- profit service of Victoria General Hospital Foundation.

8 December 2015

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