Submitted by Carol Tomlinson, RN BS
Community Health Educator
Preventing The “Tin Man” Effect
The less you move physically the more you lose in health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz, when inactivity becomes a habit we “rust-up” in a sense, slow down and become less vital.
As “older model human beings” like myself, we undoubtedly have either experienced or witnessed the tin man effect that often sneaks up on us as we age. The less we move the harder it is to move, and before we know it “bam” (or rather creak, creak). It becomes harder to get up from a chair or bed or in and out of a car.
When the tin man effect happens, an oil can won’t fix the ills of our inertia. Negative consequences of our inactivity may include high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, respiratory conditions, depression and fatigue, among others.
The good news is that you don’t need magical instructions or a wizards blessing because it is never too late to “shake off the rust” and return to being active. The following are guidelines for becoming healthier by being active that come from the Academy of Preventive Medicine:
- Make small activity promises that you can keep … then do them (e.g. I will walk around the block 2X this week or in case of icy sidewalks I will get up and walk around inside with every commercial while I am watching TV).
- Keep in mind that small activity is always better than no activity!
- Increase the amount of activity slowly over time.
- Team up with a friend or family member to support each other and keep moving forward.
- Keep it feeling fresh by mixing up activities and exploring new options.
- Balance exercise and other activity with sufficient rest.
- Be good to yourself and others by praising successes and forgiving mistakes.
- Don’t give up … you are worth it!
As you become more active, you may find you have more energy and that your mood improves. Regular activity will strengthen your bones and muscles and help you to be healthier overall. Whatever you do, don’t give up and hibernate for the winter. Maybe you can get a friend to take a class with you.
There are a number of local facilities and groups that offer a variety of classes for all levels of ability and interest such as the Senior Centers and YMCA. HealthLink offers several classes including Tai Chi For Arthritis, Gentle Yoga, Chair Yoga and Gypsy Dancing, as well as snowshoe hikes and winter fun days for the outdoor enthusiasts or one who has “cabin fever.”
For more information, call HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our NEW wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.