Exercise and friends critical for seniors

Living healthier is a critical commitment that our growing older population must make, according to a recent New York City Health Department report. That survey notes that the city’s senior population is growing rapidly and as life expectancy increases and baby boomers age, the need for this population to stay physically active and socially engaged is critical.

There are more than 387,000 seniors over the age of 60 residing in Queens – more than any other borough. Between 2020 and 2030, the elderly population in Queens will experience the largest growth.

With only 24 percent of the city’s older adults describing their health as very good or excellent, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Department for the Aging (DFTA) released Age-Friendly NYC, a collection of 59 initiatives to help promote healthier aging. Designed to help seniors stay safe, healthy, and active, the initiatives include turning senior centers into health and wellness centers.

“We need to help older New Yorkers stay as active as possible,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “The Health Department is working with DFTA and other city agencies to ensure that our neighborhoods promote active aging by providing good sidewalks, safe street crossings and ready access to parks and green space.”

According to the Health Department, the leading cause of serious injury among older New Yorkers is falling, as older adults account for more than two thirds of fall-related hospitalizations and deaths among adults – as age increases, so does the risk.

The Age-Friendly NYC initiative establishes a task force to address fall prevention, and calls for various measures to help seniors get the activity they need to maintain strength and balance. These include forming partnerships with health clubs, so that fitness instructors can teach classes in senior centers.

“Besides helping to control weight and prevent diabetes and heart disease, moderate exercise can help older adults improve balance, prevent falls and slow the rate of cognitive decline,” said Farley.

To help lower the risk of injury, federal health guidelines advise seniors to get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of intensive exercise, every week to maintain health and prevent chronic illness.

Older adults interested in taking advantage of the Age-Friendly NYC initiatives can Call 3-1-1 or visit www.nyc.gov/aging to locate the nearest senior center.

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