By Natasha Anderson
The U.S. Department for Health and Human Services recommends adults engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week with muscle strengthening exercises performed on two or more days each week. The benefits of such activity are well documented, with studies showing improvement in everything from blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels to cognitive function, mood and sleep quality. Additional payoffs, including fall prevention, improved bone density and greater independence are particularly important to seniors, many of whom consider the ability to maintain physical fitness and lead an active lifestyle an important factor in choosing a retirement community.
“A lot of the residents moving in today come with a fitness background,” says Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community fitness coordinator Vicki Sheppard. “They have been exercising at clubs and YMCAs and they want similar offerings as well as new challenges here.”
Deerfield’s fitness center is stocked with a range of equipment, including free weights, resistance training machines, treadmills, ellipticals and stationary bikes. A variety of classes are held in the aerobic studio, including yoga, chair yoga, tai chi, balance and fall prevention, Pilates and abdominal workouts. Those who prefer alternative types of exercise can take advantage of hiking, croquet, and ballroom, tap and square dancing sessions, as well as an outdoor walking trail with fitness stations.
“Being exercise-driven my entire life, I had no fitness center demands for retirement living other than basic equipment,” says Dr. Mel Skiles, who, along with his wife, has been a Deerfield resident for nearly six years. “During my time here, my overall fitness has improved through cross training and increased total-body awareness gained from classes on things like core strength and balance.”
Deerfield’s aquatic center, which contains both a lap pool and a warm-water therapy pool, is particularly popular. In addition to swimming, residents can participate in water aerobics and other water-based fitness activities. “Water jogging four times a week is an intense, demanding, full-hour workout that keeps me active and focused physically, mentally and emotionally—at age 95!” says resident Jean Hoefner.
Residents can also take advantage of certified personal trainers who design workout routines based on individual goals and abilities. The trainers at Deerfield are experienced in dealing with common conditions including arthritis, knee, hip and back pain and other causes of limited mobility. “When instructors are hired, not only is their expertise important, their personality and ability to relate to the aging adult is crucial,” says Sheppard.
To ensure that fitness offerings continue to meet residents’ needs, Deerfield maintains a sub-committee comprised of residents who listen to community members and give suggestions. An annual Fitness Week introduces new offerings and encourages residents to experience existing ones that they haven’t yet explored.
Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community is located at 1617 Hendersonville Road, in Asheville. Learn more at DeerfieldWNC.org.