Fitness can be fun
Great communities make exercise a natural part of life
“It’s not unusual for some seniors to wonder if they are perhaps too old for exercise,” says Anna Louie, marketing director for PARC Retirement Living. “But we find that many of our residents take on new challenges and participate in programs they never thought they would.” In fact, the assumption that our later years are a time of rest and repose is flipped on its ear by many of today’s seniors
Let’s not forget Yul Kwon, running marathons and winning them. Recently, 100 year old Susan Hosang played in the KLM Open, part of the European Tour. In 2018, Canadian Robert Pitcairn became the oldest competitor to debut at the Commonwealth Games, in Australia, at the age of 79 years and nine months. And as Anna Louie will tell you, exercise is a key part of life in PARC Retirement Living’s communities. That’s also true in other retirement homes across the country.
“It’s impressive how many people come out to our exercise class every morning,” says Shelley Snoulten of Holland Gardens. “They work out for an hour, and I see them working hard. It gets very busy in there.” What you find in retirement homes is that activity is integrated into the life of the community. For many people, going to the gym is a schedule interruption that makes it inconvenient and easy to forego commitment to regular exercise. Not so for people who’ve found a way to make activity come to them.
“I would never have moved here if there wasn’t any exercise. I have to keep moving!” says Ida Fiesser at Delmanor Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ontario. When she moved to Delmanor six years ago, Ida was accustomed to daily activity. “That was one of the first things I asked: is there exercise every day?” She’s very happy with the exercise programs afforded by the community, rattling off a list of regular classes she never misses. “At 10 o’clock every day is tai chi,” she smiles. Ida’s also been able to continue a lifelong regimen of yoga. “On Friday, we have chair yoga,” she says. “I’ve done yoga for 40 years, I can’t give that up! Chair yoga is not as easy as it sounds!”
I would never have moved here if there wasn’t any exercise. I have to keep moving! On Friday, we have chair yoga. I’ve done yoga for 40 years. I can’t give that up! Chair yoga is not as easy as it sounds!
You’ll get the same feeling of joy in activity from Gerda, a 99-year-old senior at Summerhill PARC. “I stopped playing tennis at 93,” she says. But daily activity remained a habit, even after she had to give up her favourite sport. She participates daily in Summerhill PARC’s LivingBalance program. “I go to exercise every day. I don’t get any exercise walking,” says the near-centenarian, “so I exercise in other ways on a regular basis.” Incredibly, this includes ballroom dancing and fitness classes like Zumba Gold. Rather than letting herself be forced to reckon with aging, she’s remained “a force to be reckoned with,” as PARC’s website says.
For Gerda, the ease of access to fitness wasn’t possible without Summerhill PARC, but it’s not just that fitness facilities are impossible to avoid at a community like hers. Programs in communities also remind people of health awareness. At Tapestry at Wesbrook Village, Peter Harrison found this past February that the community’s Fit Feb event was the motivation he needed. He joined in and was given an “accountabilibuddy” that sparked competition among peers. Peer pressure can be fun when you’re getting healthy together.
As Shelley Snoulten says at Holland Gardens, “There’s definitely a social aspect to it.” When you’re in a community with people who love living together, as seen in retirement communities across the country, healthy activity feels beckoning rather than an obligation. It becomes fun again, and in many communities, exercise is an important aspect of communal and individual happiness.