Silver Sneakers classes help seniors stay fit and socialize

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Members of the Silver Sneakers class at the YMCA in Medina exercise with weights while seated in a chair. In the front row, from left, are Jeannine Connor of Medina, Marilyn and Fred Haslip of Alabama and Jim Hancock of Medina. In back are Dan Parker of Albion, Andy Jamele of Waterport, Tina Gunder of Medina and Dorothy Jean Boyle of Medina (bending over). The class meets five days a week.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 30 January 2020 at 8:51 am

MEDINA – Attending her exercise classes is something Jeannine Connor wouldn’t miss.

In fact, going to Silver Sneakers and yoga at the YMCA in Medina is something she looks forward to every day, and during the last two years, Connor has attended more than 200 classes each year. Although she turned 84 on Jan. 10, she realizes the benefits of regular exercise and has no plans to give up.

She not only attends Silver Sneakers classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, but she also does yoga two mornings a week.

Connor loves the opportunity to socialize with other seniors, but in September she fell and broke her leg, and the classes have helped her get her mobility back.

Jeannine Connor of Medina has attended more than 200 Silver Sneakers classes at the YMCA in Medina for each of the last two years. In back is Andy Jamele of Waterport, formerly of Medina, who started attending Silver Sneakers more than 10 years ago with his late wife Mabel. They warm up here with the class on a recent Friday morning.

“I worked and worked on bending that leg and I now find I can bend it even more,” Connor said. “It exercises all the muscles.”

She said the exercises, especially yoga, have helped with her vertigo.

The program is open to people 65 and older. Pam Canham teaches the classes every day. When she is out, Linda Drum, who has worked at the Y for 10 years, fills in for her.

Canham is retired from being the director of the Orleans County Office for the Aging, and she began exercising after she retired. After getting more involved, she became certified to teach Silver Sneakers and yoga.

She said at this time of year everyone makes New Year’s resolutions to get fit, and this is a perfect time to put the spotlight on exercising.

She explained that chair yoga focuses on breathing, stretching and balance. Every class is done at each senior’s own pace, and the instructor will focus on options for everyone.

There are two levels of Silver Sneakers. Silver Sneakers Classic is designed to increase muscle strength, range of movement and improve activities for daily living. A chair is used for seated exercises and standing support. Classes can be modified depending upon fitness levels, Canham said.

Silver Sneakers Cardio Fit is a safe and heart-healthy aerobics class which energizes a senior’s active lifestyle using low-impact movements which focus specifically on building upper body and core strength, plus cardio endurance.

Zumba Gold is perfect for active older adults who are looking for a modified Zumba class which recreates the original moves participants love at a lower intensity. The design of the class, Canham said, introduces easy-to-follow Zumba choreography that focuses on balance, range of motion and coordination.

“Silver Sneakers is fueled by our group of dedicated instructors who really care for the physical, social and emotional health of our local seniors,” said Greg Reed, director of the YMCA. “The 10 to 11 a.m. time frame is one of my favorites at the YMCA, as members continue to pursue the best version of themselves. I would challenge any senior to see if their health insurance provider covers the cost of a YMCA membership, so they can join this committed community.”

Reed invites any senior to stop in any time to find out more information.

Canham suggests seniors contact Cindy Perry, director of Outreach, Education and Marketing at Medina Memorial Hospital’s Community Partners for further information on healthy eating.

“Everyone wants to get fit, and we have a dietitian who will meet with people one on one,” Perry said.

Of particular concern are seniors who may be diabetic or pre-diabetic.

Perry said the Center for Disease Control has determined that physical activity and good nutrition go hand in hand. A study found that taking Silver Sneakers classes can help seniors control their diabetes.

Community Partners will sponsor a pre-diabetes class starting in March. The class will run once a week for 16 weeks, then meet once a month to keep participants motivated. The goal is for participants to lose three to five percent of their body weight over a year, something Perry said is very doable.

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