September is Healthy Aging Month, which makes it the perfect time to recommit to your health and wellness.
“It’s not too late to take control of your health,” affirms Carolyn Worthington, editor-in-chief of Healthy Aging Magazine, executive director of Healthy Aging, and creator of September is Healthy Aging Month, an annual health observance designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older. “It’s never too late to get started on something new.”
And for residents of many senior living communities, the commitment to wellness is no sweat, thanks to fun and exciting fitness programs and activities. Take a look at these five unique wellness programs that help seniors achieve their goals of staying healthy and aging gracefully.
Walk This Way
This past summer, 30 residents of Wake Robin, a senior living community in Vermont, engaged in a wellness initiative called “The Challenge,” in which participants were encouraged to walk or swim the 219-mile distance between Shelburne, VT, and Boston, MA. Each participant was given a pedometer to get started, and all physical activity—whether walking, swimming, gardening, or playing with grandchildren—was converted into steps and then miles. Seniors logged their daily activity and had lunch meetings to talk about their progress, stay motivated, and share tips. Bonus: Those who were able to go the distance are eligible for an all-expenses paid trip to Boston this fall.
Go for the Gold
Think your Olympic chances are long gone? Think again. At senior living communities like The Carlisle Naples, residents participate in Olympic challenges every single year. This past summer, seniors battled it out in the Florida community’s 14th annual Summer Olympic Challenge. After the pep rally, which included an official torch lighting, residents ages 80 to 102 engaged in a weeklong competition of challenges such as golf putting, Wii bowling, bocce ball, darts, Scrabble, poker, crossword puzzles, a spelling bee, and more. Of course, the closing ceremony featured an award presentation and a feast for everyone involved.
Spice It Up
Sometimes, all you need is something new to reenergize your interest in staying healthy and fit. That’s why The Palace at Coral Gables frequently introduces new classes—to keep seniors motivated toward wellness. This past year, the senior living community offered a popular African dance class called “Move Your Boombsey.” Taught by world-renowned African dancer Kukuwa Nuamah, the workout encourages participants to move their whole bodies to a variety of African rhythms. Seniors can easily get in on the action, as the class is open to all fitness levels.
If you’ve reached the point where traditional bicycling sounds more dangerous than fun, CyberCycling may be just right for you. CyberCycles are recumbent bikes with interactive, Internet-connected computer screens that can communicate with other CyberCycles across the country. Seniors are even competing against each other in CyberCycle Challenges to see who can bike the most miles in a set time period. In fact, residents at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens, and Covenant Village of Turlock placed in the top 10 in this year’s CyberCycle March Madness competition.
Pursue Wellness for Mind, Body, and Spirit
Of course, there’s more to wellness than the physical dimension—other key components include the social, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and vocational dimensions. At Presbyterian Village North, a senior living community in Dallas, the sixth annual Wellness University this past summer integrated each dimension of wellness into the program. The community-wide program encourages resident participation and learning, underscored by the belief that every day should be filled with opportunities to be well. This year’s courses included everything from tai chi, sunrise yoga, and square dancing to estate planning lectures, art and music courses, and even a basic life support class.
CHIME IN: What are your favorite wellness programs in senior living?