Keeping active to maintain independence

The Daily Ardmoreite
Splash for Fun Senior Water Class
Herb and Frances Erhart practice hand-eye coordination during MSROM.
SilverSneakers participants practice different levels of ball catching during MSROM.
Rex Wilkinson water walking in the warm water pool.
Debbie Newell, Marketing and Communications Coordinator Ardmore Family YMCA.

No matter your age or your condition, it is never too late to start a physical fitness program. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.” Whether it is walking, biking, swimming, yoga, tai chi or low impact aerobics, staying physically active can help to maintain mobility, lift your mood, make performing your day-to-day activities easier, and consequently, help maintain independent living.

With life slowly getting back to normal after a year of uncertainty, it is time to start making your health and fitness program a priority again. Here are a few suggestions of activities that can help get you started:

Yoga and Tai Chi: There are countless reasons to add yoga and/or tai chi to your fitness routine. As the first forms of group exercise, dating back over 5,000 years, these practices incorporate mind, body and spirit and are one of the most effective ways for seniors to relieve depression, help ease back pain, and even reduce blood pressure for people with hypertension. With falling being the leading cause of injuries in older adults, improved balance and mobility is the best reason to start doing yoga and tai chi. YMCA yoga participant, Sharon Johnson, sees the value of these activities, “We build our balance, strength, and also work our memory in yoga.” She continued, “This class is fun and for anyone at any level of flexibility.”

SilverSneakers: The Ardmore Family YMCA offers two SilverSneakers programs: MSROM and CardioFit. MSROM (Muscle Strength and Range of Movement) uses hand-held weights, elastic tubing with handles, a ball for resistance, and a chair for seated and/or standing support. Through the use of these tools, participants increase flexibility and range of motion, improve core strength, increase muscular endurance, reduce stress, use breath more effectively, and improve their sense of well-being. CardioFit is a heart-healthy aerobic workout using low-impact movements, focusing on building core strength with added cardio endurance. Although the increased strength and cardio benefits are important, the relationships that develop during these classes are just as essential. “Our SilverSneakers program is all about camaraderie!” said Susan Cowlbeck, the Ardmore Y’s SilverSneakers Instructor, “We make the classes fun and we laugh a lot.”

Swimming and Aqua Aerobics: According to a 2016 study by Harvard Medical School, swimming can help relieve pain and improve quality of life. If lap swimming isn’t what you’re looking for, water aerobics is another great option. Because of buoyance, a greater range of motion and flexibility can be achieved in the water. Johnna Laird, Aquatics Instructor and YMCA Personal Trainer, stated, “Our seniors at the Y love the water because we can perform bigger aerobic moves in the pool without fear of injury or overuse like on land.” Laird added with a smile, “We can play and have a blast like we did in our youth!”

The Ardmore Family YMCA has two pools to meet a variety of fitness needs. For those who enjoy lap swimming or deep water aerobics, the larger pool is a great option. If 90-degree warm water is your preference, the small pool with its Aqua Arthritis, Aqua Plunge, Splash for Fun, Aqua Blast and water walking can meet your needs.

Be sure to get medical clearance from your doctor before starting any exercise program, especially if you have a preexisting condition. Also, check with your insurance company before joining any fitness facility to see if your benefits include programs such as SilverSneakers, Renew Active, or Silver&Fit. Many medical insurance benefits offer unlimited gym access and fitness classes for aging adults at no additional cost or at a discounted membership rate.

Getting active can be a challenge sometimes, but it is one of the healthiest decisions we can make at any age. It truly can be a lifesaver for seniors and the key to maintaining independence. Setting a goal and committing to make your health a priority is the first step. For more information regarding the Y’s senior fitness programs, call 580-223-3990 and ask for Mary Drummond, Membership Director or stop by the Ardmore Family YMCA and try a class for free.