Fitness Isn’t Just About the Gym for Hampton Silver Sneakers

Posted on: June 27, 2017

June 20, 2017 6:18 PM, Judith Lowery, The Daily Press

Some people say age is just mind over matter, as in, if you don’t mind, it does not matter. But for those who exercise on a regular basis, it’s a lifestyle.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that exercise prevents diseases associated with aging. As little as two and a half hours a week is all that is needed to help prevent ailments such as arthritis and heart disease.

Some health centers are aware of the health benefits of routine physical activity for those 55 and older as they have sought to tailor fitness programs to the aging population. One such program that helps with this process is named the Silver Sneakers.

Silver Sneakers has many partner fitness affiliates across the Peninsula and Hampton Roads, including the Hampton YMCA, which has the highest participation rate on the Peninsula.

“Silver Sneakers is not just a fitness program — it’s a community. It is the most successful program that I have seen for mature adults in this area,” said Nichola Diaz, director of healthy living at the Hampton YMCA.

Diaz said the program is so successful that some have been turned away because there were too many people wanting to attend a fitness classes with limited spaces.

Diaz also said the popularity of the Hampton YMCA Silver Sneakers is centered around fitness instructor Robbie Koll. Koll retired 13 years ago as a photographer at Fort Eustis and has been teaching fitness ever since.
“I teach yoga, swimming exercises and chair aerobics. The exercises they participate in has a positive effect on their overall quality of life,” said Koll.

Koll, 72, instructs participants that include baby boomers and at least one centenarian who is 100 years old. Koll has seen remarkable improvement over time for seniors once they start the program. “I have seen those who need a cane in the beginning of the program and are gradually able to stop using them. I have seen participants be able to use their hands again,” Koll said. “As a consequence, they become more independent and become more social.”

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