As we age pursuing a lifestyle of health and wellness is directly related to how we live our lives and less related to being free of disease. The residents at Hebrew SeniorLife’s senior living communities take a proactive approach to living life to its fullest with the highest possible levels of physical, social and emotional engagement. This is achieved by setting supported goals through the Vitalize360TM program for improving all aspects of one’s wellness.
For one couple from Orchard Cove in Canton and another from NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham, a lifetime of shared passion for physical activity has kept them committed to fitness together throughout their lives. Each couple made successful transitions into their respective communities when they arrived and part of this success can be attributed to an active and engaged lifestyle. And through gentle encouragement and mutual participation, they confirm they have strengthened their relationships as a result.
Many older adults struggle to maintain an exercise program and their weight as they age. Being supported by one’s partner can be the most effective means to make physical activity a regular part of our lives and share in the rewards of getting fit together. A study in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness finds that married couples who exercise at the same time have a significantly greater chance of sticking to a fitness regime. The study also found that married couples who enrolled in an adult-fitness program, attended nutrition counseling and spent exercise time together had only a 6 percent dropout rate, compared with 40 percent of the married people who attended without their spouses.
Mike and Barbara Atlas, 86 and 83 respectively, of NewBridge on the Charles, played golf together but singles tennis with other players in Florida before coming to the community in 2009. Mike was “the high school jock” who played squash, basketball, tennis and track in high school according to Barbara, his high school sweetheart back then.
Both were thrilled to have the well-equipped, state-of-the-art fitness center at NewBridge with a full set of cardio and strength training machines. Mike and Barbara workout three mornings a week for at least an hour each day. They arrive at the fitness center together yet follow separate workout routines overseen by NewBridge fitness manager Christina Foley.
Barbara summed up the reasons she keeps coming to the fitness center with Mike, “Sometimes Mike has to nudge me down here but once I get going, I really forget that I’m as old as I am!” “I think she’s the cat’s pajamas for coming along, too,” Mike said.
“You don't have to be at the same fitness level or have the same goals to be a workout buddy to your significant other,” says Foley. “Simply going to the gym together – even if one of you takes a swim and the other walks on the treadmill – will still give you the benefits of accountability, motivation, time spent together and better fitness.”
New Orchard Cove residents Bea and Gene Weinstein, both 88, were lifelong tennis players and began to come to the fitness center together very soon after arriving. They have continued to exercise several times a week, working out on the cardio and strength machines, taking part in stretching classes and working on balance exercises with Orchard Cove fitness specialist Angela Labonte. Over the years, Bea said exercising has helped her weather some of life’s lowest times. Gene has successfully recovered from open-heart surgery due to his exercise program.
Labonte said that spousal support can play a role in making healthy lifestyle changes. “They are making a choice to set aside time in the day for exercise. This reduces the risk of one or both people skipping their exercises for the day which ultimately reduces the likelihood of living a sedentary lifestyle,” Labonte said.
Even one partner workout a week can bring you closer. “If your workouts are part of a regular schedule, it’s a good reminder to connect with each other,” said Foley. “When a couple works out together, the actual exercise itself can physically and emotionally have a positive impact.” That time spent together exercising becomes "us" time, and that routine morning walk becomes more fun with good company. And when you add the benefits of less stress, better sleep and a sharper brain, both partners can more successfully navigate the years to come together.
About Hebrew SeniorLife Continuing Care Retirement Communities
Hebrew SeniorLife offers Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in Massachusetts, open to residents of all backgrounds, faiths and cultures. A CCRC is a senior living community that offers a full range of housing, residential services, and health care in order to serve its older residents as their needs change over time. Their mission is to give the elderly easy access to a continuum of care that ensures residents enjoy independent and productive lives with the support of social and health care services.