According to census data, more than 10,000 people turn 65 every day, making ‘baby boomers’ the fastest growing age group in the country. Additionally, two out of every three people over age 65 have at least one chronic health condition. Research from the National Institute on Aging and numerous other health entities clearly indicates that lack of physical activity puts us at increased risk for many chronic diseases.

Our bodies were created for movement, but many modern conveniences have engineered physical activity right out of our lives. Taking the elevator or escalator has become the default decision instead of using the stairs. Even at home, remote control televisions and automatic garage door openers have become standard equipment. Whether you are counting steps, taking a 30-minute walk or relaxing with a yoga session, it takes intentionality to ensure that we get adequate physical activity every day.

A variety of physical activity is also an important consideration. Our bodies benefit from each of the four types of physical activity: endurance, balance, flexibility and strength. People often associate strength training with bodybuilders, but everyone – regardless of age or fitness level – can benefit from basic strength training, as it contributes to overall health and can enhance independent living and quality of life.

Less than 20 percent of baby boomers engage in any regular physical activity and even fewer do strength training exercises. If you are someone who has ‘missed the fitness bus’ through the years, or you just need to jumpstart a stalled routine, consider participating in the Stay Strong Stay Healthy program offered by University of Missouri Extension. The program, designed for adults over age 55, is based on simple strength building exercises, which will also improve balance and enhance overall health. In this group class, participants start at a level that is right for them and increase effort at a pace that is comfortable.

There will be a Stay Strong Stay Healthy class starting on July 18 at the Messiah Lutheran Church in Independence. The class will be meeting at 2 p.m., on Tuesdays and Fridays through Sept. 8. There is a $40 registration fee for the class series and all equipment is provided. There will be more classes in the fall.

-- For more information or to pre-register, contact Denise Sullivan at the Jackson County Extension Office at sullivand@missouri.edu or call 816-482-5850.