Since I cancelled my cable, I’ve been watching more Netflix. Recently I was browsing through the “Suggestions for You” category when I found “Gotta Dance” a documentary about the first-ever senior citizen hip hop dance team for the New Jersey Nets. It’s a story about people being active at any age and against odds… it’s scary how well netflix knows me.
The group was determined to show the world that just because you’re over 60, doesn’t mean you can’t dance. A member said, ” age is a number I like to ignore.” They even talked about the importance of exercise in keeping them “young.” I have a discussion around the topic of exercise in older adults weekly with my clients. Older people CAN get stronger and fitter. Unfortunately, there are some that believe this is not possible and it usually takes some convincing on my part to get them on board. Nothing is more convincing than hearing the stories of the people that joined this group. Many of them talk about how they felt better, lost weight, and became more confident.
One of the members stated, “People over 60 CAN DO more than sit and watch TV.” He’s absolutely right, however, if you’re over 60 and all you do is sit and watch TV… well that’s all you’ll be able to do. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. Find something you love doing or something you have an interest in learning, even if that something is difficult and challenging to your body and your mind. I did a quick search in Milwaukee and found dance studios and recreation departments holding classes for adults to learn dance or return to dance. One such company in Milwaukee is DanceWorks. They have 50+ classes in ballet, tap, and yoga. Communities should be offering more diverse options for older adults to stay active above and beyond chair exercises and water aerobics. Although those are good classes and helpful to many, there are older adults who don’t want to slow dow. Some want to continue to challenge themselves physically, such as those who joined the Netsationals. The members of the Netsationals were new to hip hop dance, but they were willing and ready to learn something that was unfamiliar and out of their comfort zone.
Exercise is the key to aging gracefully. Find something you like. You can dance if you want to. If you know an older adult that falls into the “only sits and watches TV” category, have a discussion with them about exercise. Life gets much harder for an older adult when their bodies are no longer in motion. If you are having trouble staying physically active or if everyday tasks are becoming difficult or uncomfortable, the best person to see is a physical therapist. Find one here.