New online program will help senior citizens get physically active
The health challenge will run June 1-30
While the warmer weather entices many Wasatch Back residents into the outdoors, Jimmy Golding, health promotion manager of Mountainlands Association of Government Aging Services, knows some older citizens are still concerned about going outside due to coronavirus anxiety.
This is one of the reasons Mountainlands will host a month-long senior health challenge from June 1-30, Golding said.
“COVID hit seniors harder, because of early reports that it targeted the elderly, and there was an uncertainty surrounding the pandemic so that even now, there are still some seniors who are afraid to leave their homes,” Golding said. “So, this health challenge goes beyond physical health. It also taps into their mental health, and hopefully by getting active many senior citizens will start to feel better about things.”
The senior health challenge is for people ages 50 and older, is 100% electronic and is accessible through Mountainland’s website, mountainland.org/health, according to Golding.
“They can scroll a little down the page and click on the senior health challenge link, and they will be able to sign in and create a free account,” he said. “They will be able to log in their activity throughout the month, and the activity can be anything — going for a walk, run, playing racquetball, taking a spin class or even working in their yards — anything that is active.”
Participants can record their activities and times, which will show up on their personal profile, Golding said.
“We’re just trying to help these seniors create a habit of exercise,” he said. “That’s why the challenge is a month long. Once it is over, we are hoping they will remain active each day.”
The challenge is divided into age groups — 50-59, 60-69, 70-79 and so forth, Golding said.
Those who log the most hours in their respective age groups will win a Fitbit watch, he said.
“Whoever comes in second place will win some earbuds and third place will win a duffle bag,” Golding said. “Furthermore, all who participate will receive a registration packet that will include a T-shirt, water bottle, nutrition snacks and information about places that will help them keep active.”
The health challenge is also a convenient way to help seniors who want to get active that doesn’t require them to go to a recreation center or gym.
“We just want to provide them the opportunity to exercise or be physically active where they are,” Golding said. “We’re not trying to take the place of senior centers. We’re just trying to fill in a gap.”
The challenge fits into Mountainlands Association of Government Aging Services’ mission, which is to “provide education resources and services that empower aging adults to thrive at home and in our community,” according to Golding, who is also the volunteer manager for Meals on Wheels, another of the organization’s services.
“That’s a fairly open-ended mission, and this challenge specifically empowers aging adults to be active so they can thrive at home and be a part of a community,” he said. “There is a leaderboard where they can see each other’s progress and provide a place where they can encourage each other.”
Once the senior health challenge is in full bloom, Mountainlands may start offering a few tai chi and seniors yoga classes at local facilities that don’t currently offer them, Golding said.
“In the meantime, we would like everybody who can participate to do so, whether they are currently active or not,” he said. “If they aren’t currently active, we would like them to reach out to the doctors and set up a regimen that fits them so they don’t overexert themselves or get hurt.”
When: June 1-30
Age:Anyone age 50-plus living in Summit, Utah and Wasatch counties
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