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Activities keep seniors young at heart

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POSTED May 29, 2012 6:36 p.m.

The adage, “You’re only as old as you feel” is the motto of many senior citizens as they dance, do water aerobics, and play badminton on their journey toward staying active and healthy in their older years.

The benefits of staying active, whether it’s walking the dog around the block or gardening, are supported by many health organizations, including www.diabetes.org, and the Oakdale Senior Center is one way the local senior citizens stay fit and active within their community.

“The exercise class is three days a week and it has a big turn-out. The social part is very important, too. It gives them somewhere to go and forge friendships,” Linda Royalty, City of Oakdale Recreation Supervisor said. “The Monday afternoon Bingo is also very popular.”

Royalty said coordinators work hard to create fun, interesting activities for the seniors, including providing several day trips, such as a trip to the Filoli Home and Gardens in Redwood City in April, and one week-long trip a year, which is scheduled for Mt. Rushmore in June.

Also in June is the annual information day, which brings companies and services applicable and useful to seniors under one roof. The event is co-sponsored by Oak Valley Hospital and SEAPA (Stanislaus Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance) and well-attended by seniors looking for resource information.

“We have a guest speaker, a free lunch, senior information and vendors,” Royalty said of the event. “It’s usually well-attended.”

The Oakdale Senior Center is a thriving, vibrant addition to the City of Oakdale, one that garners kudos from visiting seniors.

“We have about 100 people go through the senior center a day. It’s utilized quite a bit. It’s not just the classes, but meeting up with friends and the social aspect. We’re pretty active and we have a lot of things going on. We also have the nicest senior center in the area. It’s a very nice facility. We get good response and feedback from visiting seniors. It’s very important as a community to keep seniors active and healthy.”

Two of the most popular classes currently offered at the senior center are line dancing and tap dancing, two classes that get the heart pumping.

For the more artistic seniors, the center offers a painting class every Monday and watercolors on Tuesday.

In addition to being fun, the health benefits of remaining active are hard to ignore.

According to Diabetes.org, staying active in your later years will provide the following health benefits:

• Improve blood glucose management. Activity makes your body more sensitive to the insulin you make. Activity also burns glucose (calories). Both actions lower blood glucose.

• Lower blood pressure. Activity helps your heart pump stronger and slower.

• Improve blood fats. Exercise can raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. These changes are heart healthy.

• Take less insulin or diabetes pills. Activity can lower blood glucose and weight. Both of these may lower how much insulin or diabetes pills you need to take.

• Lose weight and keep it off. Activity burns calories. If you burn enough calories, you’ll trim a few pounds. Stay active and you’ll keep the weight off.

• Lower risk for other health problems. Reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke, some cancers, and bone loss.

• Gain more energy and sleep better. You’ll get better sleep in less time and have more energy, too.

• Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Work out or walk off daily stress.

• Build stronger bones and muscles. Weight-bearing activities, such as walking, make bones stronger. Strength-training activities, such as lifting light weights (or even cans of beans), make muscles strong.

• Be more flexible. Move easier when you are active.

The Oakdale Senior Center also puts out a spring activity guide, which provides specific times and dates for activities and upcoming events.

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