Staying active — physical and mentally — as you age
Staying active physically, socially and mentally will help us all age to the best of our ability — and it’s never too early or late to start.
Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Sitting and being inactive also leads to losing muscle mass, which makes getting up and down from a chair more difficult and increases an individual’s risk of falling.
“Being active” doesn’t just mean exercise. What we do to stay active can look different depending on interests, friends, health conditions or where you live.
We know exercise helps keep muscles strong to help with fall prevention, cardiovascular health and independence — all concerns of those who are aging. Activities such as walking or swim aerobics help with cardiac health. Monitoring your blood pressure at home can be a great motivator by seeing results of your hard work.
But while it’s easy to focus on exercise, don’t discount the importance of being socially and mentally active. As we age, our lives change and we may become isolated and lonely, which affects our health.
Keep active in your community by trying a senior meal at your local senior center or trying one of the many activities they host. There are great senior centers all over Pierce County that help older adults stay connected and active.
Staying mentally active means learning or something new or doing something challenging. If you spend your time solving word-search puzzles, try a crossword, Sudoku or coloring to work your brain in a different way.
Volunteering is a great way to give back, feel good and another way to learn new things. MultiCare has more than 3,000 volunteers and we always have openings.
Or try MultiCare’s Celebrate Seniority, a free membership program that promotes healthy aging through education, social activities and volunteerism. We partner with local senior centers to provide and promote programming, including a “Brain Fitness” program that encourages conversation, long-term and short-term memory recall.
We also partner with two fitness programs, JoEtte’s Gentle Yoga and the SAIL fitness program. Celebrate Seniority offers free movie matinees, as well as summer picnics and holiday celebrations. Members receive a bimonthly newsletter and calendar. Become a member here.
SAIL (Stay Active and Independent for Life): Mondays and Fridays, 9-10am at Sumner Senior Center, $3 drop-in. Provided in partnership by Sumner Senior Center and MultiCare Celebrate Seniority, SAIL is a light aerobic program for adults who want to improve strength, balance and the ability to perform daily tasks. For more information, call 253-863-2910.
JoEtte gentle yoga: Mondays and Wednesdays at the Sumner VFW Hall from 1-2pm, in partnership with Celebrate Seniority. Please call JoEtte if you are interested in participating: 253-468-4750.
EnhanceFitness: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Auburn Senior Activity Center from 8:15-9:15am and 3:30-4:30pm. Group Health members are free. Call 253-931-3016 for more information.
Mall walking at Tacoma Mall: Monday–Saturday, enter the mall as early as 7am and on Sundays at 9am. Walkers are encouraged to use the entrance by Jamba Juice.
Mall walking at South Hill Mall: Monday–Saturday, enter the mall as early as 7am by Gene Juarez. Each walker should sign up ahead of time at the mall office in the food court.
Mall walking at Outlet Collection in Auburn: Monday–Saturday, enter the mall as early as 7:30am by the entrance between Bed Bath and Beyond and Nordstrom Rack.
Water exercise: Meridian Physical Therapy, 1707 3rd St. SE Suite A. This is a $10 class featuring low-impact and deep relaxation exercises. Call 253-841-3041 for more information.
Silver Sneakers: If you’re at least 65 years old, you may be eligible for the Silver Sneakers fitness program, which includes a free gym membership — call your insurance to see if you are eligible to participate.
Silver Sneakers participating gyms and centers
North Hill Fitness, 715 Meridian E, Edgewood
Federal Way Community Center, 876 S 333rd St., Federal Way
24 Hour Fitness — Auburn Active, 915 Auburn Way N, Auburn
Tacoma Metro Parks: Classes, weight room equipment included. For more information, call Sangkros Lok at 253-404-3900.
Sumner Senior Center: Tuesdays at 1:45pm, Thursdays at 2pm. $3 for non-members.
Deborah Gurney is supervisor of MultiCare Health System’s Celebrate Seniority program.
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