By Christine Bryant
National Senior Health and Fitness Day may only be one day, but the Hilltop YMCA is marking the occasion in a big way.
“The event is too big to fit in one day, so the Hilltop YMCA is going to celebrate all week,” said Barbara Camfield, chronic disease prevention and senior program coordinator.
National Senior Health and Fitness Day, slated for May 25 this year, is the nation’s largest health promotion event for older adults. It’s estimated that more than 100,000 older adults will participate in local fitness activities as part of the 23rd annual event.
At the Hilltop YMCA, 2879 Valleyview Drive, Columbus, community members are invited to visit and try several activities at no cost – even if they are not members of the YMCA. Non-members should bring a photo ID, however.
Activities include line dancing, Tai Chi, Pickleball and other exercises. Humana will provide healthy drinks and snacks and those who come four out of five days will win a Silver Sneakers exercise ball, while supplies last.
Physical activity is important at any age, and it’s never too late to start, Camfield said.
However, it is generally suggested to consult a physician before starting any fitness program, especially is there is an overlying health concern. If OK’d, exercising can have numerous benefits, she said.
“Cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone don’t decline as quickly in people who exercise regularly,” she said. “It also helps maintain balance, flexibility and muscle mass.”
Regular activity reduces the risk of falls as well, which can be a great concern for the aging population, she said.
Although the Hilltop YMCA is celebrating National Senior Health and Fitness Day, the organization is also known for its activities for older adults year-round.
“We have many older adults who sign up for their Y membership through the Silver Sneakers program that is administered by Healthways,” Camfield said.
BOOM is a new Healthways class that is geared toward people who are more fit and what more of a challenge, and EnhanceFitness is a YMCA USA promoted class.
“Although it was developed for people with arthritis, a large range of physical ability is evident in the class,” Camfield said.
More than 44 million people in the United States are 65 and older, representing 14 percent of the U.S. population. It’s projected that by 2060, there will be about 98 million older adults.
Just like any age group, older adults and their levels of physical activity vary, which is why the YMCA reaches out to all fitness levels.
“We have young older adults – the ones that have just retired and maybe are sleeping in for the first time in their lives,” Camfield said. “Some have taken a job, maybe out of boredom or necessity. Many babysit for grandkids.”
For more information about National Senior Health and Fitness Day, go to fitnessday.com. For more information about the Hilltop YMCA, go to ymcacolumbus.org.