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Column: Celebrating Active Aging Week

— A healthy, active lifestyle is important for everyone — but perhaps more so for seniors. Numerous studies have documented the benefits of physical activity in reducing risk factors for diseases, improving physical abilities, and substantially enhancing the quality of life for older people. Regular exercise can boost energy and help seniors maintain their independence, and it’s good for the mind, mood and memory, too. In addition to physical activity, social activities and volunteer work that keep seniors engaged in the community have been shown to have significant benefits.

In Alexandria, we are fortunate to have a wide range of fitness and social opportunities for older Alexandrians. Just look around. You’ll see older residents walking and bicycling; participating in programs through the city’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities; serving on city boards and commissions; and volunteering at the hospital, in faith-based organizations and at local food pantries — to name only a few of the ways seniors are active and engaged in our community.

At Home in Alexandria (AHA!), the newest entry in the “village” aging-in-community movement, is committed to providing older Alexandrians with the support they need to remain independent in their homes for as long as possible. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle is a key factor in enabling our members to remain independent, and that’s why we organize regular walking outings, social gatherings and exercise programs.

This week, Sept. 23-29, we celebrate Active Aging Week — established by the International Council on Active Aging to support people in living as actively and fully as possible. This year’s theme, “Expand your experience,” recognizes that engaging in new and rewarding experiences contributes to mental and physical health. For many Alexandrians, robust walking might be one such new and rewarding experience. To help celebrate Active Aging Week, AHA! is hosting a Sept. 28 “robust walking” presentation by orthopodeic surgeon Dr. Dan Kulund. For more information on this free presentation that is open to the public, please visit www.athomeinalexandria.org.

As we celebrate Active Aging Week, it’s important to remember that you’re never too old to start exercising. Exercise and an active lifestyle are the true keys to healthy aging.