February is the month of love and romance. Valentine’s Day brings to mind images of paper hearts, heart-shaped balloons, heart-shaped candy, etc. It’s no wonder that Congress and the American Heart Association named February “American Heart Month.”
American Heart Month is dedicated to spreading awareness of cardiovascular issues and heart health education. People 65 and older are especially at risk of cardiac problems and heart diseases. Over the years, the cardiovascular system suffers from high blood pressure, cholesterol buildup within the arteries, and other issues. The cumulative effect of these difficulties are often most acute later in life.
AgeWell Atlanta Helps Seniors Stay Healthy
Preventing heart disease starts with making healthy choices. According to the CDC, the best way for older adults can improve their heart and general health is with physical activity. Older adults with chronic conditions, of course, should be careful about how their bodies can handle exercise. Yet, any physical activity, if it’s just a few minutes, is important and shouldn’t be undervalued.
Luckily, AgeWell Atlanta Neighborhoods and the Active Mature Adult Program at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) provide seniors with resources to help them stay healthy, be active and have some fun. The MJCCA and AgeWell Atlanta both provide a range of programs for seniors. The following low-impact options often concentrate on strengthening areas seniors often find worrisome—balance, core strength, posture, fall prevention, and more.
SilverSneakers and Renew Active are health and fitness membership organizations distinctly for seniors. These programs are paid for by some Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement insurance plans. They give seniors (65 and older) access to fitness centers, online classes, apps and more. Members of these groups can use the MJCCA fitness center between 10am-4pm. There are also several classes open especially for members of these programs. “Even if they don’t want to come to the JCC, there’s a virtual membership, which is pretty unique,” says MJCCA staff member, Barbara Vahaba. “If they have that virtual membership, they can go on the Mind Body App and register for classes. The teacher then sends the link for the day’s class.”
The AgeWell Atlanta Neighborhood Program is designed to help older adults remain in their own homes but still be as active as possible. The program offers a chance for those in neighborhoods like Roswell, Toco Hills, Dunwoody and East Cobb to do virtual and, eventually, in-person activities with their neighbors. The program currently runs a general fitness class two times a week as well as a chair yoga class online.
The MJCCA has several different aquatic classes that are perfect for older adults. Water acts as a natural form of resistance that allows participants to build strength without a harsh impact on the body. These workouts can soothe arthritis and joint pain that hinder older adults from trying other strength workouts. It also is great for increasing bone density and muscle mass. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy the feel of a heated pool in the winter and a cool outdoor pool in the summer?
Working out under the guidance of a personal trainer is a motivating way to meet fitness goals and stay safe. The MJCCA’s personal trainers all hold national accreditations and have different expertise including physical therapy, balance, injury prevention and several specialized therapies. They have small group sessions with four people or less, semi-private sessions with two people, or one-on-one private training available.
We couldn’t leave out one of AgeWell Atlanta and the MJCCA’s most popular exercises—PickleBall. This low-impact game has been enticing more and more people to pick up a racket and get competitive. Combine tennis, badminton, and table tennis and you have PickleBall. Beginner sessions are offered to MJCCA members and SilverSneakers/Renew Active members. Then, once you have your own paddles, anyone can come in for a game held either inside the MJCCA gym or outdoors on the tennis courts.
These are just a few suggestions. There are so many ways for seniors to be more active. The hardest part of any exercise is usually the first step.
If you’re caring for a senior that is really resistant to doing any exercise, then don’t call it “exercise.” Invite them to go walk in a park or around the mall. It has been shown that getting 10,000+ steps a week lowers the chance of death in the next 10 years by 46%.
The more fun activity is, the more someone will want to do it. A family can plan a 15-minute dance party with grandkids. A game, like Simon Says or Red Light, Green Light can also do wonders and get Granny or Grandpa smiling.
Let AgeWell Atlanta Help You
Of course, seniors have to be very cautious about how far they push their bodies. Many common and mainstream workouts can be too strenuous for older adults. Caretakers may want to consult with the person’s doctor to know if an exercise is safe. But once a senior gets the okay, AgeWell Atlanta’s advisors can help with the ways to keep the people you love healthy, active and live better lives. If you have questions or want to learn more, reach out to an AgeWell Atlanta professionals by calling 1-866-243-9355 or emailing [email protected].