Fitness Isn’t Just Physical

Since May is National Senior Fitness Month — and May is almost over! — it seemed appropriate to remind readers that being fit doesn’t just refer to physical fitness. It’s just as important for seniors to be spiritually and emotionally fit!

Being fit isn't just about being physically active. Mental, emotional and spiritual health play a role, too.

Being fit isn’t just about being physically active. Mental, emotional and spiritual health play a role, too.

The connection between mind, body and soul helps to create balance in our lives, which becomes increasingly important as we age. But as easy as it is to say, what does it mean to be spiritually, physically and emotionally fit? In short, it means:

  • Taking care of our bodies – exercising, eating well and listening to our bodies when they are in pain.
  • Taking care of our emotions – calming an anxious spirit and seeking opportunities, experiences and activities that make us happy, excited and energized.
  • Taking care of our spirits – finding comfort in prayer, mindful meditation, personal reflection and even socialization.
  • Taking care of our minds – playing brain games, doing puzzles or simply engaging in conversations, like The Kenwood’s weekly current events discussion group, that stimulate and improve cognitive function.

Dr. Paul Nussbaum, a noted clinical neuropsychologist who was the guest of The Kenwood in 2011, talks a lot about the connection between mind, body and spirit in his book, Save Your Brain. He advises his patients to assess their holistic fitness levels by asking questions like the following:

Physical Activity:
I walk 10,000 steps daily 5 points
I walk between 5000 and 10,000 steps daily 3 points
I do not walk daily 0 points

Mental Stimulation:
I am fluent in more than one language 5 points
I am learning a new language (including American Sign Language) 3 points
I am not learning a new language 0 points

I eat several ounces of salmon two or more times a week 5 points
I eat salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, or tuna once a week 3 points
I do not eat fish 0 points

I meditate on a daily basis 5 points
I meditate once a week 3 points
I do not meditate 0 points

I eat one meal with family/friends every day 5 points
I eat one meal with family/friends weekly 3 points
I do not eat meals with anyone 0 points

The above list of questions is by no means comprehensive, but it is a helpful way to get started on the path toward improving mental, emotional and physical fitness. As with an “exercise” program, pick one or two from the above and start slow, then build up. You’ll be amazed at the positive changes even seemingly small steps can make!

Do you have a tip for improving or building upon the health of your mind, body and soul? Share it in the comments!

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