June is Men’s Health Month: Getting Healthier At Any Age
Waltonwood’s John King helps set the pace for senior men
It’s never too late. That’s the message from doctors and scientists to older men who want to improve physical fitness and overall wellbeing.
“Even people 100 years old or older can build muscle strength,” says Dr. Edward Phillips, assistant professor of physical medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Waltonwood Senior Living Forever Fit Director John King can attest to this. In the 10-plus classes he teaches each day at Waltonwood, King sees evidence of improvement through the people who consistently show up.
“I had a gentleman who was falling off the fitness wagon,” King says. “He started joining my men’s working group and working with me one-on-one and was thrilled to feel stronger.”
King said the gentleman improved so much that he not only started showing up at the gym on his own, but he brought his wife. It was impressive to King that this man not only stuck with his workout plan, but became confident enough to start doing it on his own. It reinforced King’s knowledge that it’s never too late to get started on fitness goals.
“My advice to most people is to just try it,” he says. “If you don’t like it, you never have to come back.”
Yet, the way King structures his classes usually brings them back. The maximum class size is 12 and every day, King averages between eight and 12 participants.
“We do what we need to do in class, but we’re like a bunch of friends hanging out and having a good time,” King says.
However, it’s more than just breaking a light sweat and lifting dumbbells, King says.
In fact, there’s much more. That’s why King offers an array of courses and exercises that not only address strength training, but include activities that improve mobility, balance, and flexibility. There are even activities aimed at improving mental acuities, such as meditation and chair yoga.
Chair yoga is one of King’s most popular classes. In addition to reducing stress and feeling emotionally lighter, chair yoga can increase flexibility, improve coordination and balance and reduce back pain. Studies have found chair yoga can also help lower blood pressure, protect joints and improve circulation.
Balance training in seniors is also important, emphasizes King. As the aging progresses, muscles and nerves become less flexible and the reaction time decreases. Incorporating balance training helps reduce the risk of falls, which is one of the top factors for senior injuries. Having a good balance helps men continue to do the simple tasks in life – and life pleasures - such as enjoying walks, golf or dancing.
“When it comes to men — or anyone — some negative things that happen with aging or sedentary lifestyles include muscle atrophy,” King says. “Many, many studies show as we get older, we tend to get set in our ways. Too set in our ways and that can lead to a decrease in mental acuity.”
King, who has more than 15 years in the health and physical fitness industry with a background in special populations, says the optimal approach to fighting off decline is to suit up and show up. He’s even conducted movement patterns to identify muscle imbalances that can be improved through staying active and doing the correct exercises.
Good for the body and mind – and making new friends in the process! Here’s to feeling more fit this summer starting with Men’s Fitness Month in June!