Just Move

It seems as elemental as breathing in and breathing out.

Exercise is good for you.

That’s especially true for senior citizens. Staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities, including dementia.

But many seniors throw up roadblocks. They’re afraid that exercise will be too strenuous, or that it could harm them. The National Institute of Health says it’s just the opposite.

It reports that exercise is safe for all age groups, and that older adults hurt their health far more by not exercising than by exercising. NIH also states that it’s never too late to begin even the most modest program, and that four areas crucial for staying independent benefit the most: strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance.

Dr. Umit Ergin, the octogenarian former internist who participated in Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Health Sciences Ray McCoy’s study of balance and Wii Fit, said the attitude of most seniors is the biggest obstacle.

“You don’t say, ‘I have to do this,’ but ‘I’m going to do it,’ ” said Dr. Ergin, who does yoga and climbs stairs three times a week. “The question shouldn’t be ‘What am I doing?’ The question is ‘How far can I go?’ ”