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Can’t stop aging, but we can control some of its impacts

Everyone ages, there’s no getting around that fact. But how we age and the factors that we can control in the aging process will be central topics at the Woolwich Seniors Association health fair taking place Tuesday (Oct. 25) at the Woolwich Memorial Centre.

Featuring cooking classes and a motivational talk by a leading fitness expert, the fair is aimed at helping seniors live more healthful lives and to stay active and fit.

“We’re trying to make sure they’re not just sitting around and doing nothing,” said Mary Jordan, coordinator of the seniors association in Elmira.

“I hope they’ll become more active and stay active, and by doing that their health will be a lot better, they can stay in their homes a lot longer, and Alzheimer and some dementia can be reduced.”

This is the first time the association has held a health fair like this, and Jordan hopes to fill the void left by the cancellation of the annual St. Jacobs health fair that had been running for more than two decades.

The fair includes a cooking demonstration by chef Ryan Terry, as well as a keynote speech from health and fitness expert Kary Odiatu.

Her talk, entitled “Keep Your Edge at Any Age,” will discuss the importance of diet and exercise in the long-term health of seniors.

“We are all aging, there’s not a magic pill or a cream to stop this,” said Odiatu. “But current research shows that your diet and your exercise and your lifestyle – which also encompasses stress and sleep – influence how you age.”

Odiatu, 41, is a registered nutritional councillor, certified personal trainer, author, and a former Ms. Fitness Universe champion.

For seniors she emphasizes the importance of regular exercise, and she said that studies have shown moderate exercise – even a brisk walk just three times per week – significantly improves the functionality of the grey matter of the brain, leading to improved memory and cognitive skills.

She also said regular exercise helps improve energy levels and is the ultimate anti-aging remedy, as exercise helps revive aging mitochondria, which are the energy centers of the cell.

“Everybody complains about not having enough energy, and seniors between 60 and 85 with regular to moderate exercise three times a week, they’ve shown you’ll have more of them (mitochondria) and the ones that have turned off will turn back on.

“That’s anti-aging at its finest right there.”

She also said diet was just as important, and stressed that a Mediterranean-style diet heavy on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish rather than red meat and heavily processed foods helps improve brain function and overall health.

Finally, she stressed that it was never too early to start an exercise program, citing the example of Sauja Singh, the 100-year-old marathon runner who recently competed in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon and finished in just over eight hours.

“He didn’t start running until he was in his 80s, and that was very interesting because people always say ‘I’m too old to get started,’” said Odiatu of the new Guinness World Record holder for oldest runner to complete a marathon.

So while the only two certainties in life are death and taxes, it is comforting to know that there are ways we can help ward off the former through a few simple changes in the way we live our lives.

The health fair runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Woolwich Memorial Centre this Tuesday.

There is no charge to attend, and lunch is available for up to 125 attendees for a cost of $8.50. For more information contact the Woolwich Seniors Association at (519) 669-5044.

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