Contribution by: Jenna Sherman
Building physical fitness programs for seniors and encouraging participation isn’t just an act of goodwill; it’s serving. It’s important to continually challenge ourselves to think creatively on how to expand our mission of service, particularly as trying times and challenges continue to confront us in unexpected and unprecedented ways. We believe it is important to keep inspiring our older adults, to let them know their church needs them, and to find ways to keep them healthy in mind and body. Incorporating physical fitness into safe social interactions is one proven way to do that.
Seniors have faced challenges that many of our youth only dare to imagine. The recent pandemic has offered proof of that; even vulnerabilities of health did not overcome the resiliency of mind and spirit for many older adults. All they need are some ideas, maybe some technology tutoring, and a little encouragement.
Move the room with Zoom
Over the past year, many seniors have become familiar with video conferencing for everything from family “visits” to telehealth consultations. So, why not form an exercise class with their fellow parishioners, led by a fitness trainer or teacher? Step and strength exercises are ideal indoor exercises for seniors, requiring little special equipment. There are varying types of yoga that are geared toward this age group, providing an ideal way to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and while reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. Chair yoga, for example, requires no special equipment. You can even incorporate some fun activities into the routine, like holding a decorating contest for your “yoga chair” to show and use at the next session!
Videoconferencing isn’t the only technology available to you for in-home fitness. The makers of video games for Wii, a home video game console by Nintendo, were savvy enough to recognize the influence of the senior population and develop games with physical activities geared toward senior fitness – and even physical therapy. You can also play with family members as long as safety protocols are closely followed.
Get motivated by God’s outdoor beauty
What better way to celebrate and serve God than combining outdoor activities that are good for physical health, with service and fellowship? It can be as simple as walking to church services if it is close enough to safely do so – with your doctor’s blessing – or, park a block away and walk the rest. Those who have had to self-isolate can benefit, both mentally and physically, from getting out and enjoying a socially distanced walk with someone. This also offers an excellent way to keep tabs on those who have no nearby family to check on them.
Fellowship and fitness
As long as it can be done safely, start a fitness group with other church members that meet regularly at the church or at a gym. Many gyms offer discounted memberships for seniors. There are also some fitness programs that are covered by healthcare programs. Groups are a great way to keep you motivated, and to keep you accountable for your fitness commitment. You can incorporate a spiritual post-workout winding down period of prayer and reflection.
Supporting everyone’s fitness journey — equally
We believe the improved health and wellness of many of this country’s senior population should be spread among as many as possible, so that all races, classes, and ethnicities receive the benefits of improved health.
When you’re ready to make a difference, join The Christian Mission to transform the lives of the less fortunate in the Mooresville area.