Exercise, especially as you age, is essential for staying mobile, reducing falls and improving balance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a combination of aerobic and strength training to improve health with at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. But less than one-third of Americans older than 65 meet the recommendations.

A lifetime of fitness

Two Woodlands residents embody physical fitness and embrace the philosophy that you’re never too old to exercise.

Well into his late 70s, John Lusk was an avid runner and would often log a six-mile run. At 94 years old, John no longer runs, but exercise remains front and center in his life. John attends the men’s balance/weights class three times a week at Woodlands Retirement Community. He joins his buddies, Steve, Grover, Mark, Phil and other male residents, to use weights, tubes and balls to improve muscle strength. Woodlands fitness instructor Elizabeth Myers also uses various equipment and activities to help participants maintain and enhance their balance.

For one year, John has faithfully attended the men’s balance/weights class and credits his improved balance and physique to the program. He also uses the NuStep® recumbent cross trainer in Woodlands’ Wellness Center three times a week. “I love to exercise, but it has to be routine,” John emphasized. Equally important, John’s Woodlands wellness regime has resulted in lasting friendships. “I like to come to class and share a joke with my pals.”

Residents take part in a balance class, a key part of the Woodlands Wellness programming.

At 90 years old, Dottie Daugherty is a regular participant in Elizabeth’s 10 a.m. exercise class held Monday through Friday. During this half-hour class, Dottie works on functional movement exercises using a combination of weights, tubes and balls. “If my joints are hurting in the morning, they always feel better after I exercise,” Dottie explained. A longtime walker, Dottie also finds time to stroll the campus using its paved paths and takes advantage of the Wellness Center on the weekends.

“Exercise keeps me going,” Dottie said. “If you don’t move, you lose your mobility.” Dottie should know. After an illness, she worked hard in physical therapy to regain her strength and then transitioned back to her Woodlands wellness routine. “I was determined not to use a walker,” Dottie emphasized.

The fountain of youth

Elizabeth appreciates the reciprocal relationships she has with the Woodlands residents and is inspired by her class participants. “I look at them and realize there’s a lot of living after 50,” Elizabeth shared. John can’t agree more. “There’s no doubt about it. Exercise is the key to longevity.”

Elizabeth can tell whether people have exercised all of their lives by their physical abilities; however, she encourages those new to exercise to experience some of its benefits:

  • Improves bone and muscle strength to reduce the risk of falls
  • Helps control joint swelling and arthritic pain
  • Improves blood pressure
  • Eases symptoms of anxiety and depression and generates a feeling of well-being
  • Boosts stamina and overall energy

“You need to move to feel better mentally and physically,” said Elizabeth. “I want people to leave class feeling energized.” The big improvement Elizabeth sees with her class participants is how they can easily go from sitting to standing without using any support. For example, Elizabeth focuses on strengthening participants’ quads, glutes, hamstrings and abdominal muscles during chair exercises.

Pick an activity that’s right for you

In addition to the men’s balance/weights and the five-day-a-week exercise classes, Woodlands wellness programming includes tai chi, chair yoga and a balance class. These activities, along with scenic walking paths, a Wellness Center and organized corn hole and croquet games, give you every opportunity to stay fit for life.

Find out how you can flourish through fitness at Woodlands. Contact us online or call 304-697-1620 for more information.

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