A Story Worth Sharing
Senior Citizens MOVE towards a "Fountain of Youth"In the eight westernmost counties of NC 30% of the population is age 65 or older - twice as high as the U.S. population.
Author: Angela Mucci
“If I don’t keep moving, my arthritis hurts so much I can barely move at all!” exclaimed Katie, a 75 year old woman at a local exercise class. Her insightful comment highlights the fact that physical activity often leads to more movement, due to increased energy and flexibility. Conversely, lack of movement can make it seem harder to begin exercising, due to an increase of fatigue and discomfort.
Arthritis isn’t the only chronic health condition which can be treated with exercise/movement forms. The CDC reports that physical exercise can prevent, delay or even reverse diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease, depression, and diabetes. Benefits of frequent physical exertion include: improved immune functioning, better gastrointestinal functioning, stronger bones, and protection against chronic conditions such as cancer.
In other words: “I am pretty sure movement is the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth,” said Gail, a local 80 year old who enjoys swimming, walking and playing pickleball every week.
THE WORD FROM LOCAL EXPERTS
According to Hendersonville resident Denise Medved, creator and CEO of a brain and body fitness program called Ageless Grace: “Today the number one health concern on our planet is losing brain function as we age. Simple word games and puzzles do not delay cognitive decline. They only affect some of the brain functions and they just make you better at puzzles. Traditional repetitive exercise does not engage all the functions of the brain either.” Research shows that the best way to improve brain functioning is to combine physical and cognitive challenges at the same time. That’s why she created Ageless Grace, a seated, “functional fitness and wellness program consisting of 21 simple tools (movements) for lifelong comfort and ease.”
Local wellness and Ageless Grace educator/trainer Carol V Gerson states: “We’re living longer now so it’s important to move the entire body, from head to toe, every day. Ageless Grace is a cutting-edge brain fitness program based on the science of neuroplasticity.” In simple terms, neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain and central nervous system to change form and function. “This program activates all 5 functions of the brain – analytical, strategic, kinesthetic learning, memory/recall, creativity and imagination – and simultaneously addresses all 21 physical skills needed for lifelong optimal function. Classes are also spontaneous and playful, with up-beat and nostalgic music, so people are highly motivated to come back. There are lots of laughs during class.” This laughter and social interaction, says Carol is an important aspect of the class experience.
SENIOR CITIZENS AND DEPRESSION
Ageless Grace classes provide a remedy for an issue senior citizens face: The CDC reports that “older adults are more prone to depression.” This awareness has led to programs which encourage social interactions and inter-generational community events, such as programs which bring children to senior citizen facilities for the day. Ageless Grace classes or at-home practice can also be an intergenerational experience because kids love the playful aspect of the program. Also, people in class settings are encouraged to participate, to shout out ideas and to interact with each other. This community environment is crucial for the mental and physical health of aging populations, who are vulnerable to loneliness and depression.
FIND MOVEMENT THAT YOU LOVE
Most important when finding a movement practice is finding something you like or ideally love to do. That way you are more likely to do it again! Find something that fits your personality.
Some physical activities which combine brain and body activation at the same time are: ballroom dancing, line dancing, NIA, and utilization of obstacle courses or team sports which require problem solving. While most exercise options increase blood flow to the brain, the above-mentioned provide even more benefits due to the necessity of brain body coordination and “thinking on your feet,” or “thinking while moving.”
Love music? Try dancing, Ageless Grace or Zumba Gold. Love seeing practical results? Try some yard work like raking, trimming foliage or cleaning. Craving the great outdoors? Hiking, walking or jogging through the woods are year round scenic options for many locals. Looking for mindful, slow movement? More and more people are taking up Tai Chi in outdoor parks, churches or at the local YWCA. Feeling unsteady on your feet? Chair yoga is becoming more and more available. Spending some time at the park with kids? Be a rebel and get on that swing set or obstacle course with them. The children will be delighted, you will have fun and you will surely make a lasting impression on the other adults!
The Senior population is growing in the United States, particularly in WNC. According to Mountain Wise director Sarah Tennyson: “The US Census Bureau reports that approximately 15% of the US population is 65 or older. However, rates are twice as high in the eight western-most counties of N.C. In our region 30% percent of the population is age 65 or older.” Exercise and movement programs are critical not only because they improve the lives of individuals, but also because they reduce overall healthcare costs.
Interested in finding a movement class that works for you? Check your local paper or contact your town parks and recreation department, YMCA, YWCA, senior center or gym to find class listings. Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise programs.
AGELESS GRACE CLASSES WITH DENISE AND CAROL
Wednesdays: 11:30 AM and 1:00 PM @ Silvermont Opportunity Center.
Wednesdays: 9:30 AM @ Givens Gerber Living Center (residents only)
11:15 AM @ Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community (residents only)
Thursdays: 10:00 AM @ Mission Health’s Wellness Center
11:15 AM-12:05 PM @ Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community (residents only).
Mills River: w/Carol
Thursdays: 3:30 PM-4:20 PM @ Mills River Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Mondays: 11:30 AM @ Carolina Village (residents and their guests)
Tuesdays: 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM @ Henderson County Athletics & Activity Center (Silver Sneakers FLEX/Silver&Fit Ageless Grace class, Public class, covered by most Medicare Supplemental Insurance Policies)
Thursdays: 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM @ Carolina Village Care Center (for residents & their guests)
Contact Denise Medved at: email@example.com
Contact Carol Gerson at: 828-606-9931 or firstname.lastname@example.org
See www.agelessgrace.com for more information and inspiration.