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The Alaska Club

TAC Board: The Alaska Club Blog

Countering Aging

Posted by Barbara DuBois | May 7, 2024 9:03:14 AM

When it comes to health and fitness, senior citizens are in a decidedly different realm from their younger peers. The facts seem dire but are not irreconcilable with a healthy lifestyle. Bones are drier. Joints are not only dry but possibly arthritic. Reflex time is not as sharp. Metabolism has slowed. Tolerance for cold is diminished, but so is tolerance for heat. There are many biological reasons for this.

People struggle to adapt more to cold as they enter their senior years because older people have difficulty maintaining their core temperature. According to an article from the Journal of Sports Medicine (by J. Smolander; Effects of Cold Exposure on Older Humans Feb. 2002,) older people’s skin is thinner and the elderly tend to have a heightened response to cold also because the natural fat layer people have below their skin likewise becomes thinner. In addition, bronchial responsiveness to cold is reduced as blood vessels lose their elasticity. This means that breathing in cold air (and retaining heat) becomes more difficult. This also is a key reason why Alaska has so many senior citizens who become Snowbirds every winter.

At the other extreme, heat responsiveness is also a matter of difficulty. Older bodies tend to retain heat. People lose a sense of thirst so the body’s ability to regulate itself with proper fluid intake in intense heat is diminished. Glands do not release as much sweat and the heart is not as effective at regulating circulation.




As people age, the tendency is to become more sedentary, so blood circulation tends to not be as enhanced. As we will see, this latter factor is one that can be controlled by, surprise, surprise, more exercise and greater movement!

There are tremendous possibilities to dramatically improve one’s health and responses to all natural aging conditions. People have it in their power to improve the quality of their health quite substantially. If there was a pill that doctors could give their patients that would give them all the benefits of exercise, they would do it! This is a gift senior citizens can give themselves.

Many health problems can be mitigated through an active lifestyle that incorporates cardio, training for both strength and balance as well as flexibility. Individuals with health conditions such as diabetes or circulation problems can benefit from all the various venues at The Alaska Club. Exercise reduces the risk of circulation problems, decreases blood pressure, lowers LDL-the “bad” cholesterol and burns off excess blood sugar. In short, exercise is the elixir to the many contributing factors referred to as the “Metabolic Syndrome,” i.e. high cholesterol, high blood sugar and a high body mass index, all of which puts one at risk for various diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

While many of the factors of aging are beyond our control, we can improve our overall health, strength, flexibility, aerobic capacity and enjoy the abundance of companionship in the process. We have it in our power to access all the opportunities that The Alaska Club provides and take charge of our health. Personal trainers will guide you through the process and get a person jumpstarted on a customized training program. The Zumba classes are for all ages and provide a great deal of fun while grooving to the tunes. Various classes of yoga with accommodations for all ability and age levels are offered. Cycling classes to get people pumped up are offered at multiple locales. The H2O Cardio classes are a hugely popular draw. Easy on the joints and refreshing, the water exercises can be tailored to everyone regardless of ability or age. Check out the ongoing schedule to see what is offered. There are a myriad of possibilities to get fit that will interest all ages. See you there!

Written by Barbara DuBois

MA Health Ed. & Int'l Journalism; PhD Sports & Health History; Texas Tech Univ. & Wayland Baptist Univ. instructor; Health Ed. Program Manager Maniilaq Assoc.

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