Active living in retirement improves seniors’ minds, bodies and spirits

Physical activity is one of the most important aspects of senior living. Whether seniors are exercising along with a class or stretching from the comfort of their room, remaining active is crucial for ensuring social, mental and emotional health.

Chartwell Retirement Residences offers life enrichment activities for seniors through its unique LiveNow programming in six core areas: physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and vocational. These courses allow seniors to build physical, mental and social strength, with many classes boasting successful results.

Steven Dougherty, Lifestyle and Program Manager at Chartwell Robert Speck, has worked on developing and refining his residence’s exercise programs since the beginning of 2014. As part of the Lifestyle and Programs team, Steven has helped better the lives of residents by providing them with high-quality exercise programs geared toward promoting active living.

A typical day at Robert Speck
Seniors participating in these exercise programs work all core muscles in their bodies, including those that older adults may not frequently use. Steven helps seniors work on their joint mobility, flexibility, balance and stretching; exercises that can not only decrease overall aches and pains, but build resistance and increase strength. Specific exercises are tailored for seniors’ individual needs, but can improve the following areas:

  • Posture: While exercising, participants are taught best practices to improve sitting techniques to reduce back pains and prevent these muscles from atrophying.
  • Joints: Covering techniques that work on the body’s range of motion, these exercises ensure joints don’t lock up and remain constantly moving.
  • Balance: Working on seniors’ balance is one of the most important factors when looking at ways to prevent falls.

In addition to specialized courses for older adults, participants are allowed to perform exercises in the position that is most comfortable for them, whether that be sitting or standing.

Residents enjoy company when conducting exercises
While exercising provides boosts for the body and mind, it can also offer a perfect opportunity during which seniors can spend time with their friends and catch up with one another. Steven explained that residents frequently bring friends to courses, as these activities are fun to perform with peers.

“The attendance keeps increasing as they tell their friends and other residents to come to the class,” Steven said. “It’s getting residents to that first class where they inevitably say ‘Hey, I can do this and I really enjoy it.’ Residents are eager and ready prior to the official start of the class.”

What’s in store for the future?
Chartwell Robert Speck will continue to offer exercise courses geared toward developing senior strength, and in the future, it will offer more programs to further engage residents. One new initiative Steven recently started is the Walk ‘N’ Roll club, where seniors are invited to walk or ride in their wheelchairs along a set route to get in their daily physical activity.

“In this club, we are going to pick goals regarding how far the club walks and the number of steps taken, then set up a reward if the target is met,” Steven explained. “There are so many possibilities with regards to programs. I cannot wait to see what we come up with next.”

Exercises seniors can conduct at home
If seniors are considering performing simple stretches in their own rooms, Steven urges that they first clear any desired activity with a doctor. From there, older adults should perform exercises to help build basic strength, such as assisted movements, which may include using a strong arm to further the range of motion of a weaker one.