SilverSneakers celebrates 5th year in Ramona
According to the American Heart Association, physically inactive people are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease as regularly active people.
Physical inactivity is one of the “major modifiable risk factors for heart attack.” It shares the risk factor limelight with cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.
More and more seniors are proving every day that one is never too old to exercise. There is no guarantee a person won’t get heart disease, but by avoiding the risk factors, the chances of contracting heart disease are reduced.
SilverSneakers, an exercise program held at the Ramona Fitness Center, last week celebrated its fifth year of helping seniors overcome some of those risk factors.
Since 1992, HCD (now Healthways) healthcare-services company has promoted the health of older adults nationally through physical-activity programs specifically designed to the needs of older adult populations. Since its inception, the SilverSneakers® Fitness Program has evolved into one of the leading senior-exercise programs in the country.
With a unique blend of exercise in a socially oriented program, the design is to encourage older adults to increase levels of physical activity and provide a source of motivation to continued exercise.
Founded in Arizona, SilverSneakers is described as “a proven, results-oriented program that enables older adults, often burdened with chronic conditions, to take charge of their health and maintain an active, independent lifestyle.” Introduced to Ramona in the summer of 2004 at the Ramona Fitness Center, the local group will celebrate in Collier Park on Friday.
The exercise program has been taught by Jacki Caldwell, a fitness instructor for 35 years.
“I was in my 30s when I started instructing … as a career move in an industry that had a product I believe in,” said Caldwell, speaking about a fitness lifestyle. “I have a firm belief system in the product that I love to sell.”
Class participants enjoy Caldwell’s infectious attitude.
“Jackie is great,” said Sami Burnett, who has been with the program “almost” since the first day. “She looks like she’s 22 and in such incredible shape. She is wonderful!”
Burnett credits the classes taken with Caldwell for keeping arthritic joints in check as well as a general increase in limberness and strength.
Burnett isn’t the only one noticing a difference in active participation. Members report less disability with activities of daily living and higher “functional” abilities.
Ruth Barnard has been in SilverSneakers for about four years.
“I got to go bowling after all these years and was even able to go roller-skating with my grandchildren … without even hurting a fingernail,” she said. “It helps me to maintain the active lifestyle I can enjoy and gives me the confidence to live in my own skin.”
Barnard admits to being cautious about the activities with her grandchildren, but credits the strength and confidence to enjoy those activities with the continued exercise in Caldwell’s group.
Suffering from severe arthritis as well as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Nancy Canfield has been with SilverSneakers since the beginning as well.
“It’s kind of a social aspect for me, but it keeps me moving,” she said. “I am not able to walk any distance, some days are better than others, some days I have to hold onto a chair.
“Jackie is just a sweetheart and she watches us to make sure we can do it or not to make sure we don’t get hurt.”
People like Marty Schmid, Ralph Phillipson and June Edwards are grateful for Caldwell’s dedication and appreciate the increased energy and stamina that have come with regular participation.
Edwards looks forward to the social aspect as well as the fitness.
“Oh, we have potlucks and pool parties,” she said. “We like to have potlucks at Collier Park. Of course they make us walk before they feed us!”
Phillipson, who has been with SilverSneakers on and off since the beginning, noticed a considerable difference in strength levels when taking time off from the program.
“I have gotten so far behind in my strength since I stopped going,” he said. “I really need to go back. I was on a treadmill the other day for 3 minutes and I couldn’t go anymore. I used to be able to go for 15 to 30 minutes—it is amazing how fast you lose it … The amazing thing is we have people in their 80s that are there and we try to keep up but sometimes we get out of breath! We get a good workout, but it isn’t about living longer; it is about the quality of life as you get older.”
At 67, Caldwell just smiles and turns the credit back to the group.
“They are amazing,” she said. “They are a wonderful group and give me courage for the future. That fear of aging is a reality but they keep on keeping on. That is the beauty of these kinds of things, why we have the potlucks. They are not going to come if they don’t have fun.
“If they don’t come, they won’t exercise; if they don’t exercise, the chronic conditions many of them have. will get worse … We all need friends.”
Speaking of the difference between the SilverSneakers group and “non-seniors,” Caldwell said she noticed how fragmented other classes usually are in comparison.
“People come to the classes but are kind of in their own world or are worried about other things, but these people are different,” she said. “It is more of a cohesive group. They know time is short and time is precious and so they enjoy the company of the group and you always smile and laugh. How can you beat that?
For more information about the SilverSneakers Fitness Program, call Ramona Fitness Center at 760-789-3500.
- 2009 Fitness Trends
- Everyday Hurdles
- Ramonans GetFit with Sandy and Mario Balcom
- Keeping the family fit this summer
- New Guidelines for a New You
Short URL: http://www.ramonasentinel.com/?p=4064