With Baby Boomers living longer than those who came before them, active lifestyles can help keep our older population physically and mentally fit.
Among other services, Sharp Grossmont Hospital's Senior Resource Center offers a variety of health education programs, health screenings, health fairs and special events. The goal is to engage seniors in the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and to introduce them to the many simple ways they can improve their well-being.
"Sharp is dedicated to improving the experience for seniors beyond the doctor's office," says Dan McNamara, program coordinator for the Sharp Grossmont Senior Resource Center. "The Sharp Experience is geared not only toward giving seniors quality health care, but also to help them maximize their health and have an exceptional experience in life."
Daphne Miller is the exercise instructor for seniors at the Senior Resource Center. With a bachelor's degree in gerontology and a minor in recreation, she hosts the Grossmont Mall Walkers each Saturday at 8 am and 9 am, where, along with walking, she incorporates stretching, humming and even line dancing.
She notes that the benefits of moderate physical activity that burns about 150 calories a day — or 30 minutes of accumulated activity each day — can help decrease the risk of some of the main health issues facing seniors.
"Improved balance, coordination and flexibility can, for example, reduce a senior's risk of falling and fracturing bones," says Miller. "Increased oxygen to the brain helps to promote better cognitive functioning, and weight-bearing exercises can decrease the risk of osteoporosis."
Decreased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and arthritis also make the list, and when you add improved socialization from groups such as the Mall Walkers or other activities, the importance of an active senior lifestyle is clearly paramount to good health all around.
Retired nurse Donna Smith spent part of her career at Sharp Grossmont. She, her husband Charles, and their Yorkie Max are part of the Mall Walkers. Smith also volunteers at flu clinics and health fairs. Her profession, and now her age of 68, keep her health top of mind.
"When I was working I couldn't always find the time to be active, but I made it a priority after 40 because movement is so very important," says Smith. "I didn't want to be retired and not be able to do what I want because of physical limitations." She says doctors stress the importance of eating right, being proactive in your health care and staying active much more than they used to, especially to seniors.