Summer Heat Safety


Use these tips to continue your exercise routine. 

The summertime is a time of fun and relaxation for most people. But for seniors, the heat and sun can be dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Here are some great tips for a fun, safe summer. 

Stay Hydrated: Seniors are more susceptible to dehydration than younger people because they lose their ability to conserve water as they age. They also can become less aware of their thirst and have difficulty adjusting to temperature changes. Remember to drink water often, and be sure to pack some for those long summer drives. 

Talk to Your Doctor: Check with your medical team to make sure any medications you are on won’t be affected by higher temperatures. 

Keep Your Cool: Shopping malls, movie theaters and libraries provide welcome, cool spaces, and a great opportunity to get out of the house and get some exercise, without the exhaustion of the heat. “Seniors are much more vulnerable to the harmful effects of heat, as their bodies do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature. Some chronic medical conditions and prescription medications can impair the body’s ability to react efficiently to rising temperature.” (Kirby Pines have more than 2 miles of indoor walk ways!) 

Stay in Touch: High temperatures can be life-threatening for seniors. Let friends and family know when spending an extended period of time outdoors, even if you’re only gardening or walking. 

Wear the Right Stuff: Everyone, including seniors, should dress for the weather. When it’s warm outdoors, some people find natural fabrics (such as cotton) to be cooler than synthetic fibers. Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothes to help feel cooler and more comfortable. Hats are also a great idea, especially for those with light colored hair and those with only distant memories of a full head of hair. 

Protect Your Eyes: Vision loss can be common among seniors, and too much exposure to the sun can irritate eyes and cause further damage. Wearing sunglasses can protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and preserve your vision. 

Couple walking outdoors

Know the Risks of Hyperthermia: During the summer, be particularly cautious about abnormally high body temperatures — a condition known as hyperthermia. Heat stroke is an advanced form of hyperthermia that can be life-threatening. Pay attention to these symptoms: • Body temperature greater than 104 degrees • A change in behavior, such as acting confused, agitated or grouchy • Dry, flushed skin • Nausea and vomiting • Headache • Heavy breathing or a rapid pulse • Not sweating, even if it’s hot outside • Fainting. “Elderly individuals have a harder time knowing when they are dehydrated and their bodies have more difficulty regulating their temperatures,” the Cleveland Clinic says. “As a result, they are more prone to heat stroke.” If you (or a loved one) start to feel any of these symptoms, ask for medical help and then get out of the heat, lie down and place ice packs on your body. 

Rub on Sunscreen: Everyone, young and old, should wear sunscreen when outdoors. 

Apply Bug Spray: The elderly are particularly prone to West Nile Virus and encephalitis, and if you spend a lot of time outdoors (particularly at night), use mosquito repellent to help reduce the risk of getting bit by a mosquito carrying this virus. 

Exercise Smart: If you enjoy outdoor activities such as walking or gardening, make sure to wear the proper clothing and protective gear. It is also important to keep track of time. Do not stay out for long periods and make sure to drink even more water than usual when exercising. Also consider getting outdoor exercise earlier in the morning or later in the evening when the sun is not at its peak. 

If you follow these tips, there’s no reason you can’t have an enjoyable and fun-filled summer! 

Weight Training 101

lifting weights

Use these tips to learn how to work out with weights.

Getting started lifting weights can be tough – especially if you are coping with arthritis and are unsure of which exercises are the best and safest for your joints. How much weight should you use? How many times should you lift it? We compiled a list of weight training basics to answer your questions. 

How long and how often? Begin with 20 to 30 minute weight training sessions, two or three days each week. Within four to twelve weeks, you should see noticeable benefits, such as improved energy and muscle tone. Within six months, most people increase their strength 40 percent or more. Give your body at least one recovery day between sessions (although some people may need more, especially in the beginning). 

How much weight? Start with a pair of light dumbbell hand weights (2 to 3 pounds for women and 5 to 8 pounds for men). If you can’t do 12 repetitions (reps are the number of times you do the exercise) the weight is too heavy. If your muscles don’t feel tired after 12 reps, it’s too light. Adjustable weights that can be strapped to wrists or ankles may be convenient if you have arthritis in your hands. You can also use home or gym weight machines, or resistance bands. 

How many reps and sets? For general toning and strength, the American College of Rheumatology and American Council on Exercise recommend completing one set of eight to 12 reps, working the muscle to the point of fatigue by the last few reps of each set. 

Walking outdoors

What kind of exercises? Work all major muscle groups, starting with the larger muscles. Always include exercises for opposing muscles: for example, work the biceps and triceps of your arms, and the quadriceps and hamstrings of your thighs. Avoid above-the-shoulder exercises if you have arthritis in your upper body, and talk to your doctor before using leg press machines if you have arthritis in your knees or hips. 

How do I do it? Lift slowly and smoothly, counting four counts up and four counts down. Avoid locking (fully straightening) knees or elbows, which stresses joints. Deliberately exhale when lifting, and inhale when lowering. 

If you want to know more about weight training, see Kim Roberts. She will be happy to help and is available in the Oasis, Monday and Friday at 8:00 am and Wednesday at 9:00 am. 

The Life-Changing Benefits of Exercise After 60

group stretching

As we age, it’s normal to not have the stamina and agility we enjoyed in our younger years. But getting older doesn’t have to mean becoming a couch potato. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all older adults—both men and women—can benefit from regular, moderate physical activity. This is true even for people with medical conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure. 

What are the benefits of exercise for older adults? 

Regular activity can positively impact our physical health as well as our mental and emotional wellbeing. It can help give us more energy and greater self-confidence, enabling us to embrace our later years with gusto. 

Some of the key benefits of exercise for older adults include: 

Prevents Bone Loss: Both men and women lose bone density as they age, with post-menopausal women losing up to 2% each year. Strength training has been shown to counteract this loss and actually restore bone density. Having stronger bones leads to fewer fractures and can also aid in balance. By reducing the risk of falls and injuries, exercise can help seniors live independently for longer. 

Relieves Osteoarthritis Pain: While it may seem counterintuitive, moving more can actually help lessen the pain and stiffness of arthritis. Arthritis-friendly exercise includes low-impact cardiovascular activity, strength training, and range-of-motion exercises. How does exercise help arthritis? It takes pressure off aching joints by strengthening the surrounding muscles. Physical activity may also help ease joint inflammation and aid in lubrication, which reduces pain and stiffness. 

Helps Prevent Chronic Disease: Exercise provides a protective effect against a host of chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. If you already have a chronic condition, physical activity can minimize symptoms. It can even help reduce cognitive decline. One study found that participants over the age of 60 showed fewer Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers when they performed 30 minutes of exercise every day. 

Boosts Immunity: A 2018 study linked moderate exercise with a lower incidence of acute respiratory illness and fewer sick days off of work. The exact way exercise supports immunity is not known. However, there are many theories. Some scientists believe that the anti-inflammatory effects of physical activity enable better immune function. Exercise may also improve the performance of immune cells. 

Group stretching outdoors

Improves Mood: Simply put, exercise makes us feel good. It can help ease anxiety and depression symptoms, increase relaxation, and create an overall sense of wellbeing. A 2019 study of adult men age 65 and older found that the mood-boosting benefits of exercise continue well into old age, underscoring why it’s so vital to stay active. 

Most adults over the age of 65 can exercise safely, even those with chronic conditions and mobility challenges. Before starting any exercise regimen, it’s important to talk with your doctor to learn which options are right for your health and activity level. Then, you’ll be ready to experience the proven and immense benefits of exercise first hand. 


Group exercise

Just like your need for a balanced diet of vitamin rich vegetables and fruits, protein, and carbohydrates, your body needs a balanced routine of exercise that includes cardiovascular, strengthening and flexibility. 

Any exercise that raises your heart rate slightly is considered Cardiovascular, such as walking, biking, or swimming. In the Oasis, the Nustep, the treadmill, and the recumbent bike will increase your heart rate. As we age, it is not necessary to push ourselves to the point of being out of breath and heart pounding. Slight perspiration and increased respiration rate is good and still being able to carry a conversation is a sign of exerting enough energy to utilize our hearts and lungs without overdoing. If you do experience shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness or pain – SLOW DOWN or STOP to rest. 

Strengthening exercises build muscle and endurance. Lifting weights, Upper body and Lower body resistant equipment in the Oasis are strengthening exercises. Noodles and barbells in the water and water walking use resistance to strengthen arms and legs. When exercising, a little soreness is normal, but constant or a sudden sharp pain for more than two hours following exercise may mean “you over did it.” Always begin a new program gradually using lighter weights for a shorter period of time. On the bike or Nustep set the resistance on a lower number for 10-15 minutes. Each week add a few more minutes and increase resistance slightly. 

Woman listening to music while exercising

Exercise classes provide a balanced program for cardio, strength and stretch. Gentle stretching with deep breathing before and after an exercise session restores muscles and helps blood flow to muscles and joints to remove waste products (lactic acid) and bring Oxygen and nutrients to replenish muscle cells. Stretching and a tall glass of water may help prevent muscle cramps. Here is a quick review of the classes we offer here and how they can help keep you fit. Water aerobics and Cardio Move classes provide Cardio, Strength and Stretch. Chair Yoga and Yoga Stretch help with strengthening, stretch, and range of motion (reach and flexibility) 

Always drink water before, during and after exercising. 

Check with your medical doctor before beginning a new exercise program. Begin exercise sessions with 15 minutes three times per week. Gradually work up to 30 minutes five times per week. That is 150 minutes of moderately strenuous exercise each week which is recognized by the Arthritis Foundation, American Heart Association, and Centers for Disease Control for Cardiovascular health and healthy Joints. Visit the Oasis or join a class this week and experience that “good” feeling that comes with exercise. 

The Benefits of Walking for Seniors

couple walking outdoors

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” 

-Henry David Thoreau

Experts have said that walking could be the best exercise for seniors; it’s an effective way to reduce the risk for chronic conditions and improve your overall health. Some of the benefits of walking for seniors include: 

Improves heart health. 

For seniors, walking offers numerous heart health benefits. Getting your heart rate up daily leads to a reduction in the risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and even coronary heart disease. 

Lowers blood sugar. 

After eating, taking a 15-minute walk has been shown to reduce the after-eating spike in blood sugar some seniors can experience. Your body is using blood sugar more effectively to strengthen muscles, and insulin works better, too. 

Reduces pain. 

Studies have shown that walking helps reduce some pain due to chronic conditions like arthritis. Some seniors experience lower back pain, and walking even just three times a week for around 20 minutes can help strengthen abdominal and back muscles to decrease chronic back pain. 

couple walking outdoors

Low participation cost. 

After you’ve invested in a good, sturdy pair of shoes, you can walk basically anywhere-for free! When the weather permits, head to Lake Latimer for a stroll on the walking paths or simply walk around the garden home neighborhood. If it’s too cold or rainy to go outside, take a stroll around the hallways right here at Kirby Pines. 

Promotes social engagement.

man drinking water

Walking offers an easy way for seniors to meet up with others, whether you join a walking group with friends or simply engage with neighbors while out on your daily walk. You can meet new people and enjoy your environment each day. 

Boosts mental health. 

A daily walk can help you feel more positive about life. The endorphins released during physical activity create a sense of well-being, reduce anxiety and boost your mood. 

It’s never too late to start! 

Heart Healthy Tips for This Valentine’s Day & Life!

Couple walking in the snow

Did you know February is American Heart Month? It’s the perfect time to raise awareness about heart disease and share a few heart-healthy tips for seniors. 

1. Follow a heart-healthy diet. Low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, colorful fruits and vegetables are great for your heart. Seniors should get at least five servings per day of these nutrition all-stars. Read all nutrition labels and limit saturated and trans fats and added sugars. Buy plenty of nuts and high-fiber foods. Avoid high-fat dairy or meats and limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Never skip breakfast. 

2. Stay active. Regular physical activity can help you lose excess body weight, improve physical fitness and well-being, and lower your risk for many conditions, including heart disease risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Think brisk walking, dancing, or gardening—anything that gets you up and moving instead of sitting for hours every day. 

3. Maintain a healthy weight. The more body fat you have, the more likely you are to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing issues, and certain types of cancer. But losing weight can help to lower many of these levels and improve your overall health. Following a heart-healthy diet and being physically active can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Try some of these additional tips for improving overall health and well-being. 

4. Keep your diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol under control. Two of the major risks for heart disease are high blood pressure, or stiffness of the large arteries which becomes common with age, and high blood cholesterol, which can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. If these numbers are high, work with your doctors to lower them. 

Couple smiling outdoors

5. Minimize unnecessary stress. Studies show that higher stress levels can trigger a heart attack or angina. Stress can also contribute to high blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors. Chronic stress can affect your memory, learning, immune system, anxiety, and depression, especially as you age. If you’re feeling stressed, especially if you’re caregiving for a loved one, talk about your concerns with a loved one, your primary care physician, or a licensed therapist. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise, including relaxation techniques like yoga, tai chi, or meditation. 

6. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is key to good health and well-being. It’s an important time to support healthy brain function and maintain general good health, but not enough Americans get the recommended hours of sleep each day. Over time, not getting enough sleep can raise your risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. There are several steps you can take to improve your sleep habits: avoid nicotine and caffeine, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, keep your bedroom quiet and cool and dark. 

The Health Benefits of Exercise in Older Adults

woman lifting weights

Our biology changes as we get older, causing seniors to have different reasons for staying in shape than younger generations. Though physical fitness provides benefits at any age, the health perks physically fit seniors enjoy are more notable. Physicians and researchers say seniors should remain as active as possible, without overexerting one’s self. In older adults, exercise helps you live a longer, healthier, and more joyous life. 

Some of the benefits of exercising later in life include: 

More exercise means more independence for seniors: 
Seniors that exercise regularly are less likely to depend on others. According to Harvard Medical School, regular exercise promotes an older adults ability to walk, bathe, cook, eat, dress, and use the restroom. If self-reliance is a priority, exercise is one of the best ways to maintain independence for older adults. 

Exercise improves balance for older adults: 
Falling down is a much bigger deal for older adults than younger ones. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is admitted to an emergency room for a fall-related injury, and every 19 minutes, a senior dies from a fall, according to the National Council of Aging. Though no two falls are alike, and preventing falls is very complex, regular exercise reduces the likelihood of falling by 23%. 

Regular exercise means more energy: 
Though it seems counter-intuitive, being inactive makes you tired and being active gives you more energy. Any amount of exercise promotes the release of endorphins, which are essential neurotransmitters linked to pain mitigation and a sense of well-being. Endorphins combat stress hormones, promote healthy sleep, and make you feel more lively and energetic, overall. 

man exercising with a rope

Exercise helps prevent and counteract disease: 
Heart disease, osteoporosis, depression and diabetes are common diseases among older adults, and are often deadly. Fortunately, adopting a more active lifestyle can contribute to the prevention of these diseases, or reduce the unpleasant symptoms of these diseases if you already have them. If you are at-risk for disease, exercise may be the key to warding off an unpleasant condition. 

Regular exercise improves brain function: 
One of the most remarkable developments in health science is the revelation that the mind and the body are much more closely linked. A healthy body likely means a healthy mind, and seniors that exercise on a regular basis have improved cognitive health, according to research from NCBI. More recently, a study from the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia by nearly 50%. 

Get Ready… Get Wet… And GO!

Woman exercising in the pool

Almost everyone, regardless of age or physical condition, can benefit from aquatic exercise – even if you don’t know how to swim! Just being in the water has inherent benefits. From improvements in circulation to relieving joint pain, the rewards of aquatic exercise are numerous. Many physicians and therapists recommend aquatic therapy because it can advance individuals to a higher level of muscle fitness and mobility offering quicker advantages over land-based exercise and therapy: 

Buoyancy provided by the water allows you to move more easily with decreased stress on muscles, joints, and bones while increasing flexibility and balance. In chest-deep water, you take 70% of your body weight off your joints. The “support” your body receives makes exercising easier and less painful, allowing you to exercise longer without increased effort or joint or muscle pain. 

  • Exercises performed in the water allow the heart to work more efficiently, making it a great cardiovascular workout. 
  • The pressure of the water on your joints and muscles comforts your body while you exercise, leaving you feeling less fatigued. 
  • Support provided by the water reduces the fear of falling. 

Resistance of the water allows for higher workout intensities with less impact on your body. 

Warm water therapy has even greater benefits. Our pool in the Oasis is usually at 90º and the spa is at 100º. Besides the comfort of the temperature, immersing in warm water raises your body temperature and relaxes your muscles benefitting individuals with disabilities and conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, and many others. Participating in a warm water exercise class provides many physical benefits: 

Santa clause exercising
  • Improved endurance, flexibility, and range of motion 
  • Improved pulmonary function 
  • Increased circulation 
  • Muscle relaxation and pain relief 
  • Strengthened muscles 
  • Decreased joint and soft tissue inflammation 
  • Improved bone density 

Additionally, warm water exercise can have other benefits including reduced anxiety and stress, improved mood, and fun with friends. 

It is what it is isn’t an excuse!

couple swimming in the pool

“It is what it is.” That’s what people say when a problem arises. It’s an excuse to avoid facing a difficult situation. Too often we just accept our conditions without looking at options that could actually benefit us. Many times we avoid exercise because of the way we think. Here is a list of some of the most common myths about exercise and aging: 

Myth 1: There’s no point to exercising. I’m going to get old anyway. 

Fact: Exercise and strength training help you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity. 

Myth 2: Older people shouldn’t exercise. They should save their strength and rest. 

Fact: Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy for adults over 50. Inactivity often causes older adults to lose the ability to do things on their own and can lead to more hospitalizations, doctor visits, and use of medicines for illnesses. 

Myth 3: Exercise puts me at risk of falling down. 

Fact: Regular exercise, by building strength and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, actually reducing your risk of falling. 

Myth 4: It’s too late. I’m already too old to start exercising. 

Fact: You’re never too old to exercise! If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a while, start with light walking and other gentle activities. 

Myth 5: I’m disabled. I can’t exercise sitting down. 

Fact: Chair-bound people face special challenges but can lift light weights, stretch, and do chair aerobics to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone, and promote cardiovascular health. 

couple walking a trail in the fall leaves

At Kirby Pines we have options. We have a variety of exercise classes from chair yoga to water aerobics to strength training. Check our schedule and see what works for you. The Oasis has free weights and 10 different machines to build strength and endurance. Kim Roberts is available Monday and Friday at 8:00 am to help you learn how to use the equipment and start your own exercise program. The Nu-steps and treadmill are just waiting for you to give them a try. Our in-house Rehab Facility Ready for Rehab can also help with issues concerning balance and strength. 

The Serenity Prayer [God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference] reminds me at times we really don’t have to accept, “It is, what it is.” Just maybe “what it is” isn’t what it could be. 

Exercise: The Antidote to Aging

Couple stretching on the floor

“Exercise is an antidote to aging,” says Barry A. Franklin, PhD, director of the cardiac rehabilitation and exercise labs at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI. A well-rounded routine, as part of a healthy lifestyle, may help you avoid things like falls, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Experts say many of the conditions people think are due to getting older have more to do with not moving enough. At any age, these are the types of exercise you want to get: 

woman on a treadmill

Aerobic: good for your heart and lungs. It’s also good for your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, sleep, and memory. What to do: You can walk briskly, walk in the water, or do any other activity that gets your heart rate up. Tip: A Fitbit or Apple watch can help you track your steps and set goals. Challenge yourself to do a little more each week. 

Strength training/Resistance training: This isn’t about becoming a body builder or professional weightlifter. Strength training can help you stay as independent as you want. Do it to keep your muscles and bones strong and help prevent falls and fractures. It can make things like getting around easier. Strength training is just as important as aerobics, Franklin says. It’s the principle of “use it or lose it.” What to do: Start with 2-pound hand weights or resistance stretch bands. 

Flexibility and balance: helps prevent falls by stretching your muscles and keep them from stiffening up. What to do: Yoga stretch and water aerobics are good for both. You can also learn balance exercises in the chair yoga classes. You don’t need to go anywhere to do these or schedule a special time. Fit balance exercises into your daily routine. “You can do exercises like balancing on one foot almost anywhere — while you’re brushing your teeth or doing dishes,” Rogers says. Tip: It helps to have something like a counter to grab onto if you need it. 

How to Keep It Safe: Although exercise is great for you, it’s possible to overdo it. You’re working too hard if you exercise to the point of exhaustion or pain (not just tired legs or soreness). Tip: To stay hydrated while exercising, bring your water bottle. 

Whatever you do, start at a medium pace, where you move a little bit but can still hold a conversation. Aim for 30 minutes a day and build up to that, even if you need to start with just 5 minutes at a time. The risks of exercising are far less than those of sitting on a couch,” says Michael E. Rogers, PhD. director of the Center for Physical Activity and Aging at Wichita State University in Kansas. 

Get involved with one or more of the many exercise classes offered at Kirby Pines. And if you’re unsure about how to use our equipment in the Oasis, see Kim Roberts on Monday and Friday mornings at 8:00 am. She is there to help.