Health and Fitness
June 5, 2015
Houston seniors were busy staying active and hitting the pavement during the month of May to promote wellness. Annually, on the last Wednesday in May, seniors across the United States participate in the largest health promotion for older adults, National Senior Health and Fitness Day. While it's important to celebrate this day, the benefits and enjoyment received from exercise grow over long periods of time. Two residents at Parkway Place know the importance of incorporating fitness into their daily routines. Residents 77-year-old Bob Burchard and 85-year-old Wava Hayes work out multiple days a week because it simply makes them feel better, and they want to make sure they can enjoy and celebrate all that life has to offer. Parkway Place residents and staff are focused on the long-term effects fitness has on seniors and devoted the entire month to help residents stay active and mindful of their health. Various health and fitness assessments were provided and the residents were also encouraged to increase their walking time. In recognition of this day, residents and staff members joined together in a community-wide walk in support of the promotion of fitness among seniors. The residents met in the lobby of the community and walked more than a half-mile outside for a cause they strongly support; even one 98-year-old resident joined in on the activity.
Nearly a year ago, Burchard came to Parkway Place after suffering a heart attack. He had been active in his adult life, training for the Houston Tenneco marathon and playing tennis regularly, but this heart attack was unavoidable due to his genetic predisposition. After his heart attack, he was prescribed rehabilitation at a local hospital for his heart. He went through rehab, and he knew the importance of continuing a regular exercise program. Now, he finds himself in the fitness center 3-4 times per week, and his doctors have seen a dramatic increase in his heart function as a result.
"What I learned through the rehabilitation process is that it is essential for seniors to continue physical activity of some kind as we age," said Burchard. "We can lose muscle tone, strength and flexibility more easily, which affects how we live our everyday lives and enjoy our years with our families. Parkway Place has a wonderful wellness center which has every piece of equipment I need to keep my heart healthy, and the staff is always willing to help if I have a question."
Similarly, Hayes continues to break a sweat by attending exercise classes five days a week. She knows her body well enough to understand that staying active and social helps her feel better overall. Hayes feels the activity decreases her arthritic issues, and she often notices that she has fewer physical challenges than other seniors her age.
"I fell in love with Wii bowling when I moved here two years ago and have 13 perfect games so far," said Hayes. "I also try to walk a lot around the community and keep a pedometer on me to track my steps. I average about two-and-a-half to three miles per day. When I keep up with my exercise, I notice I feel much better overall, so I make a point to attend as many activities as I can because I know it is important."
Parkway Place emphasizes fitness and wellness throughout the year but sets aside specific times for residents to keep their personal health in the forefront of their minds. During the month of May, Parkway Place has offered eight ways for each resident to test their physical endurance, flexibility, strength and agility. Chair stands, arm curls, body mass indexes and balance testing will be some of the assessments given. The results of these eight tests will help the wellness team create a personalized plan for each resident and tailor an exercise routine to not only increase strength or lose or gain weight but to maintain independence as residents age.
"We truly want the residents to get the most out of their lives, and physical fitness is one of the ways to help maintain independence for as long as possible," said Rachel Ramirez, wellness director at Parkway Place. "Encouraging this behavior while making it accessible and fun is just as important, and we loved coming together as a community to show our support for National Senior Health and Fitness Day."