Old Town Hot Springs: Group exercise provides health benefits
May 28, 2017
While it may seem silly to some, exercising in Steamboat Springs can be intimidating. When it appears that every person you meet is an extreme athlete, those individuals simply looking to stay in shape can shy away from group environments, which often provide the necessary encouragement and excitement needed to maintain a workout routine.
This concept can be exacerbated for seniors, an unfortunate point, considering this demographic benefits tremendously from regular exercise.
It's what prompted Old Town Hot Springs Fitness Director Marietta Roberts to introduce an exercise class geared toward those age 60 and older.
"Many individuals just stop doing physical activity all together as they age and reach retirement," Roberts said. "It's a time in our life when we can benefit the most from exercise but, for a variety of reasons, don't prioritize it. Group exercise classes create a structured schedule, direction and sense of community that can really help people stay committed."
The class is called Cardio, Resistance & Balance, or CRB, and it incorporates very light cardio, resistance bands and weight training. The class also focuses on balance, core exercises and flexibility. Participants are up and moving throughout class, but there are many modifications presented for injuries or other concerns.
"The reason I wanted to create CRB is that there is so much evidence that consistent, moderate exercise provides a positive effect on many aspects of an older individual's life," Roberts said.
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Roberts points out that many of the things some simply accept as a normal part of the aging process — including weight gain, cardiovascular decline and disease decreased muscle and bone mass, declining mental acuity, increased tiredness and decrease in balance — can be counteracted with exercise.
"Obviously, the cardiovascular benefits are well-known, but increasing and toning muscles is equally important," Roberts said. "Toning muscles increases metabolism, which naturally slows down as we age, and is also a driving force in maintaining and increasing bone density."
Most know the importance bone density levels have on our lives as we age. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, more than 54 million Americans have low bone density, putting them at risk for broken bones.
CRB also incorporates exercises which have shown to improve balance.
"In addition to toning the stabilizing muscles, studies show a neurological benefit. The body becomes accustomed to moving from side to side, quick movements and staying upright. It leads to a decrease in falling," Roberts said.
There also appears to be an effect on mental sharpness, as well. A 2016 study published by the American Academy of Neurology found that, in individuals with an average age of 71, no to low-levels of physical activity were associated with decreased memory, and processing speed scores compared with participants who reported moderate physical activity.
Another area in which exercise is widely considered to help older adults is improving their quality of sleep and alertness during the day. Health professionals have long reported an increase in insomnia and daytime sleepiness among older individuals. However, several studies indicate sleep problems should not be considered a normal part of the aging process, rather a symptom of decreased physical activity and poor health. A 2013 study by the National Sleep Foundation found self-described exercisers were significantly more likely to report having a good night's sleep vs non-exercisers.
CRB at Old Town Hot Springs is taught from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Thursdays. Old Town Hot Springs also offers Fit for Life, which also incorporates light cardio and resistance training and is geared toward those 60 and older. It takes place at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Wednesdays and Friday in the hot spring pools. Classes are free for members, but guests are welcome.
Nick Esares is marketing director for Old Town Hot Springs.