Exercising after 65

Freeport senior breaks a sweat

Freeporter Rita Barry joined her fellow seniors participating in the exercise class at the senior center during the weekly yoga class.
Freeporter Rita Barry joined her fellow seniors participating in the exercise class at the senior center during the weekly yoga class.
Davy Crockett/Herald Leader

She leaned back on her chair and tightly secured the red yoga exercise ball between her knees. For the last two months, Freeporter, Rita Barry, 80 started attending the exercise classes at the Freeport Salvation Army Senior Center off Church Street. A decision she says was in the best interest of her health.

Using a walker and a wheelchair to get around due to back, breathing and cardiac problems, Barry became inactive. Her health issues were preventing her from having any type of physical activity. Concerned, she met with her doctor to figure out a way she could still exercise or add physical activity to her lifestyle.

“My doctor, my neurologist, wanted me to start going to a rehab program three days a week in East Meadow,” Barry said. “Obviously, don’t drive anymore and I have to depend on people for rides or Able-Ride. But, I can get here.”

Trying to figure out a way to get to East Meadow and slightly frustrated, Barry flipped through the newspaper’s community calendar and found fitness classes the Salvation Army Senior Center offered. The Salvation Army Center is only a mile from her home in Freeport, excited to get started and prevent the hassle of traveling to East Meadow she decided to participate.

“This just made more sense to me,” Barry said. “It’s closer to home and that is important to me. I’m not going to rehab; this (the exercise at the senior center) is my rehab. This is better.”

Medical and fitness professionals confirm that daily aerobic activities increase breathing and heart rate. The minimum amount of exercise recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, for adults is at least two hours and thirty minutes of moderate cardio and two more days of muscle-strengthening activities a week. These recommendations are also for seniors age 65 and older who have no limiting health conditions. Though some seniors may have preexisting health issues, some exercise is better than none. Any amount of activity, according to the CDC, offers some health benefits.

After sharing her plans with her doctor, Barry made her way to the center and has not stopped since. Certified Yoga Instructor Anne Moffatt has been working with the center for a number of years, providing the seniors with a full workout at their own pace. The yoga exercises, done on a chair, help improve balance, strength, and flexibility. Though the full hour of exercise is not rigorous and simple to do, Barry says the increase in physical activity is exactly what she needed.

“I’m getting stronger and I’ve seen the difference. I feel better,” Barry shared. “We sit on the chairs and do a full hour of exercise. I love it.”