Most older adults agree exercising isn't easy. It takes dedication, effort, time and, quite often, discomfort. But talk to the adults taking Misty Reddington's class and they'll say the apparent benefits outweigh the costs.
Reddington is the instructor for a group of older seniors who meet and stretch twice a week at the Hillview Social Hall. Her routines are aimed at alleviating the problems of stiffness, limited movement and poor posture.
She starts with shoulder shrugs, hand and ankle rotations and some aerobic exercises to maintain coordination. She gradually and gently increases the range of motion, flexibility, balance and endurance.
"Let's do the alphabet with our ankles, we'll go up to G," Reddington said during a recent class. "You can use capital letters or small letters, I want to hear you breathe."
Reddington has done a physical training course at De Anza College. She worked four years as a personal trainer on Marco Island, Fla., and is presently teaching deep water running at the El Camino YMCA.
There are many things that exercise can do for the aging individual. Aerobic exercise requires the heart, lungs, and vascular and musculoskeletal systems to work harder and handle increased stress.
Kamla Mankekar, a resident of Stanford, joined the class to strengthen her muscles. She finds the class is not too extensive and that it is very helpful. "It's not yoga and not weight lifting, but a cross between the two," she said.
Reddington plays music during the class. Faith Hill sings "I Can Feel You Breathe" while participants try to hold their stretch 10 to 15 seconds. The Glen Miller disc plays "Kalamazoo" as they march around the room.
A recent study found that aerobic exercise increased the amount of sleep elderly people received each night and reduced the amount of time it took them to fall asleep (Buchner, 1997). There is even evidence that physical activity may play a role in alleviating the symptoms of dementias such as Alzheimer's disease.
Jessie Fournier of Los Altos said that she prefers to take a formal class like this than exercise at home, because she feels more motivated when she exercises in a group.
Research studies have revealed American society is aging rapidly and older Americans are embracing health and fitness like never before. This is why Reddington and other fitness professionals are starting to specialize in fitness for the older adult.
Classes are held in the Hillview Social Hall 1:30-2:45 p.m., Monday and Wednesday. Cost is $10 for older adults over 55. The classes are sponsored by Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education.
For more information, call 940-1333.