The Y Encourages Older Adults to “Engage at Every Age” This May

May 22, 2018

You are never too old to eat healthy, get active and stay social.

May is Older Americans Month and the YMCA of Broome County is emphasizing the importance of being active and involved, no matter where or when you are in life. Broome County residents are encouraged to “Engage at Every Age,” developing behaviors that are crucial to healthy aging, including healthy eating, increasing physical activity and social interaction—especially those adults over 50.

Adults 50 years and older currently make up more than 30 percent of the U.S. population, and will soon represent 45 percent of all Americans. Here in Broome County, adults 50 and older make up 24% percent of the population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that adults 50 and older have a 70 percent chance of developing at least one chronic disease. While these numbers seem daunting, the good news is that making small lifestyle changes that include increasing physical activity, eating healthier and staying active socially can help older adults live better.

“You are never too old (or too young) to participate in activities that can enrich your physical, mental and emotion well-being,” said Gerry Gessie, Branch Executive. “If you need help, support or just a place to get started, community-based organizations like the Y provide the needed guidance to help older adults age well.”

The Y offers many ways for older adults to live healthier including:

The YMCA of Broome County offers many older adult swim programs that help increase physical activity and improve health. These programs provide opportunities for individuals to begin or continue an exercise routine in an environment that provides resistance, as well as buoyancy, which helps reduces stress on joints when compared to other physical activities like running.  

While the CDC recommends that older adults get a minimum 30 minutes of moderate exercise or strength training per day, less than one out of three of American’s 65 and older meet these guidelines. Swimming and aquatic programs can reduce the risk of muscle loss as one ages and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, as well as improve cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and mental well-being.

The YMCA of Broome County has 3 senior specific classes, with 13 offerings of these classes throughout the week.  We have a total of 9 water fitness classes, with over 50 offerings a week!  In our senior specific classes.  We serve about 2000 seniors that attend the Y on a regular basis

If the pool is not for you, the YMCA of Broome County offers Moving For Better Balance, a 12-week evidence-based group exercise program developed by the Oregon Research Institute. The program, based on the principles of Tai Chi, teaches eight movements modified especially for falls prevention.

According to the CDC, every 14 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall and every 29 minutes an older adult dies from a fall-related injury.

Moving For Better Balance works to improve balance, muscle strength, flexibility and mobility to enhance overall physical health, which leads to better functioning in daily activities. Participation in the program can also result in better mental health, reduced stress, improved memory and cognition, and increased self-esteem.

The program’s safe and supportive group setting also provides an opportunity for participants to enjoy learning with like-minded adults and find relief from the isolation that can sometimes come from living with limited mobility.

When it comes to staying social, it is recommended for older adults to develop and maintain various positive sources of social interaction.  Research has shown that cognitive abilities can decline 70 percent more slowly in individuals who had frequent social connections, compared to those who have little social contact with others.  Socialization can drastically reduce stress, lower anxiety and depression, as well as improve memory longevity. 

Additionally, the Y offers the following tips on how to jump-start your healthy-living routine:

1.Have fun with your food. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring! Find a new recipe that uses a different source of protein or find a way to incorporate fish or beans into an old favorite. Have fun with your fruits and vegetables by trying them fresh or frozen. Remember as you age, it’s important to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy and lean meats to help your body get the necessary nutrients.

2.Fill up on fiber and potassium, hold the salt. As you age, your body needs more fiber rich foods to help it stay regular. Aim for a variety of colorful foods on your plate (i.e. fruits and veggies) to keep fiber rich foods a part of your diet. Additionally, increasing potassium along with reducing sodium or salt may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt are great sources of potassium.

3.Get Active. Physical activity is safe for almost everyone, and the health benefits far outweigh the risks. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things older adults can do for their health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age (such as osteoporosis and arthritis) and reduces the risk for developing, or help manage, depression, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain kinds of cancers. For older adults who have chronic conditions that hinder their ability to be active on a regular basis, some physical activity is better than none. Older adults who participate in any amount of physical activity will gain some health benefits.  

4. Tweak your routine. To get the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity, you can change your routine to 10-minute sessions throughout the day. Try standing on one foot while brushing your teeth to increase balance, or do squats while washing dishes to increase strength. Make sure you can grab hold of something to maintain balance—safety first! To increase your cardio, take the stairs instead of the elevator or park farther from the entrance to work. When sitting in front of the TV, march during commercials or do some light stretching to break up sitting for long periods.

5. Get social. Socialization is an important part of aging. As we get older, it’s important to be active socially to stay healthy. Take a walk with a friend or a neighbor, join a book club or volunteer at your local pet shelter or local Y. Social interaction provides meaningful engagement, builds relationships, enhances a sense of belonging and provides opportunities for involvement—all resulting in greater bonds and a stronger sense of community. Being connected to the community keeps you healthy!

For 55 years, Older Americans Month (OAM) has been observed to recognize older Americans and their contributions to our communities. Led by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging, every May offers opportunity to hear from, support, and celebrate our nation’s elders


For more information on how your family can live a healthy, active life, visit