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Movement is key to an active, healthy lifestyle at any age

Jan 11, 2024

Movement is Key to an Active and Healthy Life at Any Age

Use it or lose it.

That principle is a big belief for Julie Zendol, Director of Rehabilitation at Cantata Senior Living in Brookfield.

“If you have the ability to move and can do it safely, then do it,” Zendol said, “because if you don’t, that one fall can really make a difference.”

Zendol and her team of physical and occupational therapists at Cantata work daily with residents in both the independent- and assisted-living sections of the campus. Weekly assessments and monthly presentations are scheduled to encourage constant movement throughout the day.

“In the back of people’s minds, they know they should move. They often just don’t understand the consequences of not moving,” Zendol said. “We like to say, motion is lotion. Constant movement lubricates the joints and allows the range of motion to remain intact.

“Stop moving and, suddenly, you can’t stand up straight all the way,” she said. “You then may start to notice your steps are not quite the length they used to be. You can’t reach the top cupboard for that glass anymore. Now, your arm won’t go around your back to bathe or dress. Bending forward can then become an issue. And on it goes — from there it’s just a downward health spiral.”

Once an individual begins to lose range of motion, Zendol said, nutrition begins to suffer. The inability to get up and down from a chair and on and off of a toilet translates to less intake of fluids and food. Eating and drinking less leads to more muscle weakness and fatigue and a decrease in strength and endurance. This, Zendol said, can then lead to problems with the vascular system.

Bottom line, she said: Staying active and moving around is vital to health, no matter one’s age.

“We want the best quality of life and care for our residents. To us, they aren’t just residents. They are grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and friends, and we want to see them live healthy,” she said. “The statistics prove the benefits of movement and fitness. One in four adults over age 65 will have a fall and, of those, 25% of the falls will be life-altering, meaning it will change their living condition. Either they won’t be able to walk again or live at home or even live alone.”

Zendol’s top recommendations for everyday fitness are simple. Practice getting up and down off of a chair; start with three times and build to 10. Walk a lap of the house every hour. If possible walk to the bathroom instead of using a wheelchair. If confined to a wheelchair, pedal it manually rather than have someone push it.

“We recommend doing whatever is within your limitation,” she said. “Live life as actively as you can. And I’m not talking about an advanced workout or weight routine — just simple movement every single day.”

Most important, if pain persists over a period of time, ask a doctor if physical or occupational therapy would help. Intervention is oftentimes the best prevention, Zendol said.

So, let’s get moving.


For more information, visit Cantata.org


“With Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Support, Skilled Rehab and Long-Term Care, we are here to help our residents navigate the progression of their entire life journey, whatever it looks like and whatever they need,”

-Lesya Shoorgot

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