Here in Cleburne County, with our high ratio of senior citizens we want to keep our ‘Independence’ in yet another important way. We look at staying on our own, being the caption of our own life, so to speak—for just as long as possible.

The 4th of July is Independence Day, celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence of 1776.  As Americans, many families and friends celebrate Independence Day with Bar-B-Q’s, picnic’s, fireworks and many other types of enjoyable outside activities. 

Here in Cleburne County, with our high ratio of senior citizens we want to keep our ‘Independence’ in yet another important way.  We look at staying on our own, being the caption of our own life, so to speak—for just as long as possible.  Yes, we love our own continued independence.

How can we keep Our Independence?

Barring an accident or a debilitating disease, we can be independent by means of a healthy recipe of life.  Nutrition, of course is an important part of that recipe, but apart from nutrition is this aspect—Strength Training.

We need to engage in some type of strength training.  Exercise is important in keeping us strong.  Stressing our muscles enough to keep them strengthened is even more important in our later years than it was when we were younger.

The statistics show us that you can build muscle at any age.  I have worked with people in a long term setting.  Some patients were in wheelchairs because of weakness, not because of being crippled by a disability.   Yet they were able to rebuild muscles well into their 90’s.  (I never worked with someone in his 100’s.)

To share an example with you, I read this past week-end about a 91 year old weight lifter who is a champion in the World Association of Benchers and Dead Lifters.  I thought what a fantastic role model for senior citizens!  If his muscles can be strengthened, so can ours.

Now, it is up to you if you decide to become a weight lifting champion or not, but, anyone can become strong enough to stay Independent, by doing regular strength training.  Of course it will take a little effort, but this is effort that is well worth it.

Strength training or resistance training regularly can help us to keep strong, building up our muscles as well as our bones.  It is important to ensure enough energy to keep us independent for a long time.

It has also been noted that strength training or exercise can help reduce the effects of many chronic conditions and health issues.  Please check out the myriad of benefits exercise has on health problems.

One study of 40 competitive runners, cyclists and swimmers, ranging in age from 40 to 81, found no evidence of muscle deterioration -- the athletes in their 70s and 80s had almost as much thigh muscle mass as the athletes in their 40s.1

Ok I am convinced—how should I begin my program?

As a senior, it would be a good idea to get a workout buddy.  Actually, that is a good idea for anyone at any age.

Another sensible idea, for seniors as well as the rest of us, would be to begin slowly, and build up gradually.   You certainly do not need to injure yourself or your muscles.  Be sensible and use caution.

With our summer heat, if you train outside, do it early or late when it is cooler, and be sure to be well hydrated.

Then, work out doing what you really enjoy.  Vary it for you’re your enjoyment and to vary the muscles used. 

What to do if you are dead set against exercise?

Dr. Joan Vernikos, in her book “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals suggests people get up and move as often as possible.  That is one way to use your own body as you weight train.  Just get up --raise the body and move some each hour.  I’ve even been told that some doctors recommend you getting up and walking during each commercial while watching TV.

Another great way of strength training is using a rebounder.  (Looks like a mini-trampoline.) It again raises the body as a weight.  How it works is, it stresses and strengthens each and every cell in the entire body at the exact same time, and it works very well at keeping a healthy body strong.

Jack LaLanne was a fantastic role model for seniors and for all of us.   He kept fit his entire life.   We lost him at age 96 due to pneumonia.  Check out his fit lifestyle at:

And remember this, it doesn’t matter what you do.  Just do what you enjoy, so you will stick with it.  Continuing to be active is most important.

No matter your current level of fitness, make sure you keep moving to keep your Independence. 

You and those you love will be happy you did.

Carmel Aaron lives in Heber Springs has a degree in biology and has been certified by Proevity in Nutrition and Glycemic Indexing. She can be reached at