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Blog: A Time to Start Reaching Out to Seniors

I'm always pleased whenever a fitness-related press release lands in my inbox. When it addresses a special population, it's even better.

The latest came from National Senior Health & Fitness Day, scheduled for Wednesday, May 30 in all 50 states. Organized as a public-private partnership by the Mature Market Resource Center, "a national information clearinghouse for the older adult market," the day's goal is to help keep older Americans healthy and fit. It's always held the last Wednesday in May, and it's billed as "the nation's largest health promotional events for older adults."

Local organizations can register to host an official event (meaning it'll be published on the website) for a $25 fee per location. The site also provides information on the Mature Fitness Awards USA, which can help encourage regular fitness activity among those age 50 and up. Participants can exercise individually, with friends or in a class, and can earn a Mature Fitness Award for continued participation.

It might be a bit late for local organizations to tie into this year's event, but that oughtn't stop them from reaching out to seniors on their own, perhaps later on during the summer or in the fall. And it certainly doesn't have to be a rigorous event; it could be a day with a walking tour of the zoo, or a picnic in a park with games like horseshoes, croquet and lawn darts. If the goal is to get people out and get them active, making it fun has to be the biggest lure of all.

Part of the problem for seniors, particularly those who live alone, can be isolation. The TV isn't much company, and people whose families have moved away often miss the interaction with others. Still, it's unlikely they'll start a fitness program (and even more unlikely they'd do it on their own) without an invitation. Encouraging them to get out and get active means they get companionship, as well as company for gentle yoga classes, mall walking and more. That leads to people being better connected and emotionally healthy, as well as physically healthy.

A lot of gyms are already offering special programs to older adults to encourage physical activity. For those who haven't yet made the leap to a gym, though, a day in the park or a walk through the zoo might be a great place to start.

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