Bridgeville, Carnegie area groups help seniors stay active during winter months
Maintaining a wintertime exercise regimen can be tough, but when it gets cold outside, senior citizens warm up at local libraries, gyms and community centers.
The South Hills branch of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh participates in both SilverSneakers and Silver&Fit, fitness programs that give Medicare-age people free access to participating gyms and other health-minded businesses.
The Jewish Community Center offers 36 classes each week specifically designed for older adults that focus on arthritis, tai chi, Parkinson's wellness recovery, yoga and aquatics. Each class is large enough for 42 participants.
Most of the classes are available to Jewish Community Center members at no charge.
The facility, built in 1999, boasts a 25-yard, six-lane heated indoor swimming pool and a double-court gym.
Elaine Cappucci, director of health and wellness, encourages seniors to move as much as they can.
“Try to avoid sitting for long periods. Take walk breaks around your house,” she says. “See if there is a neighbor, friend or relative who also wants to get out and can take you — if they have SilverSneakers or Silver&Fit, you could join the JCC together.”
For folks who want to stay fit without leaving their seat, many libraries and businesses offer chair exercises.
Angelina Levy, public relations coordinator at the Scott Township Public Library, says the branch's sole senior fitness program, Chair Exercises for Seniors, runs all year and is very well attended. The free series runs on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Chair-based classes are popular at Fritz Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine in Bridgeville. Owner and lead physical therapist Brian Fritz says muscle strength is what makes or breaks a person in their later years.
“The more active you can stay, the better off you'll be,” says Fritz, who works with five or six seniors every day who want to improve their mobility.
Held twice a week — on Wednesdays from 9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and Fridays from 12:45 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. — his SilverSneakers sessions focus on increasing strength, range of motion and balance. Fritz and his staff typically see five to 15 seniors in the classes. And although there are a few die-hards who show up to each one, attendance drops off dramatically in the winter.
Fritz has advice for homebodies.
“If you're stuck in the house, tackle those steps once or twice a day,” he says. “Look in the community because there are resources available. Find some friends who will join you and encourage you to go.
Kristy Locklin is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.