We all know the importance of staying active as we age. Exercising not only keeps your weight down, but also boosts immunity and mood, and has been shown to promote heart health, delay or prevent osteoporosis and even prevent some types of cancer.
Exercise is also a social activity. A water aerobics class gives the chance to connect with other seniors. A walking group provides the opportunity to catch up on exercise and the latest social news. Any of these opportunities provide accountability and support for your loved one to stay motivated and engaged. Encouraging your senior to remain active means promoting a healthy social life, in many cases.
Physical activity has been directly linked to slowing the process of mental decline. When you are physically active, every part of your body, including the brain, receives more blood flow. Blood flow encourages cell growth. By supporting the senior in your life to stay active, you are actually encouraging better mental health and improved cognitive functioning.
So, that brings us to how seniors can stay active right here in our area.
Of course, a membership to the YMCA or a local gym are good options, but there are actually a lot of other opportunities to get out of the house and get moving throughout the area.
If you are looking to improve your balance, increase strength and flexibility, and decrease joint pain in an exercise program, Tai Chi may be what you are looking for. There are classes available every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:00 a.m. at the RiverWalk Center, which is located at 423 E. Central Ave., in South Williamsport.
There is a Tai Chi class at the Loyalsock-Montoursville Senior Center, located at 2725 Four Mile Dr., Williamsport on Wednesdays at 8:00 a.m. also.
The Clinton County Community Center also offers a Tai Chi for Arthritis/Fall Prevention on Mondays at 2:00 p.m.
According to STEP’s Office of the Aging, “The benefits of working out aerobically in the water are numerous. One of the best features of water aerobics is the lack of stress placed on the joints due to the buoyancy of the water. This allows many who are injured to exercise in a way that they could not on land. Working out in the water is also beneficial in improving muscle tone and flexibility for those with arthritis or osteoporosis. Water aerobics is also a comfortable way to work out during hot weather.”
STEP offers water aerobics classes every Monday and Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. at the Meck Senior Center located at 50 Fitness Rd., in Muncy. The classes are available for those 60 and up.
STEP also offers a “Use your Noodle” exercise class, which is a 30-minute low impact exercise program for beginners using a pool noodle in various ways to works on balance, cardio, & arm movements. That class happens at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesdays at the Clinton County Community Center at 124 E. Walnut St., in Lock Haven.
Feeling like you want to dance? Zumba Gold builds your cardiovascular health, balance, and flexibility by working the muscles of the hips, legs and arms with dance moves designed for older adults.
There are plenty of opportunities to Zumba in the area. Classes are available on Tuesdays at the Loyalsock-Montoursville Senior Center at 4:30 p.m. At the Clinton County Senior Center on Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m., on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. At the Renovo Senior Center at 415 Fourth St., Renovo. At the RiverWalk Center at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesdays and Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. at the STEP Lincoln Center at 2138 Lincoln St., Williamsport.
The local YMCAs all offer a variety of group classes that are specific to the over 60 set also. You can check out the class schedules at http://www.rvrymca.org.
Keeping the body moving is obviously essential, but keeping the mind engaged is also vital to aging.
Reading benefits your mind and memory in ways that watching TV doesn’t. The Mayo Clinic Study of Aging found that reading books (in addition to other cognitive activities) can lead to a 50 percent decrease in your chances of developing dementia. Try to open a book for at least half an hour every day. If you find it difficult to read for long periods of time, spread it out over the day or read short stories.
According to http://www.care.com here are some other ways to stay stimulated as you age.
Play Games and Puzzles: The mind-benders you play with your kids or grandkids aren’t just entertaining — they are good for your brain. Even a few minutes a day can improve your creativity, memory and decision-making abilities. So pull out an old jigsaw puzzle or open up a magazine or newspaper and try the crossword puzzle or a Sudoku (check out page XX for both!). If you’re with friends or family, do some card or board games together as a group. Even strategy-based video games can have a beneficial effect on your brain.
Write: Put down the keyboard and pick up a pencil. Handwriting helps stimulate the areas of the brain that deal with thinking, language, and memory. Write about memories you have, what’s going on around you, something you saw recently or just let your creative juices flow and make up a story.
Eat Healthily: Scientists have determined that the brain needs the right balance of nutrients to operate well. Numerous studies have proven that a high intake of fats and cholesterol is associated with higher risk for Alzheimer’s. Stay away from fried foods and eat more dark fruits and vegetables, fish, lean proteins and nuts.
Socialize: Gathering with a group of friends on a regular basis is not only fun but also it can help your brain stay sharp. So be sure to connect with friends and family for exercise, playing games, or cooking a healthy dinner together!
Seniors who stimulate their bodies and minds live happier, healthier, longer lives, so get out and enjoy the world, read a good book, or enjoy a good meal with your friends and loved ones. Your body and your brain will thank you!