More seniors are staying active and improving their quality of life by enjoying the simple pleasures of dancing, walking, gardening and even playing billiards.
Evelyn Gipson, a spirited senior in Cleveland, is well known for her love of dancing and playing billiards with her husband, Bob, at the Bradley Senior Activity Center in Cleveland.
The 76-year-old senior said she has won 10 first-place trophies at the senior center after playing for only five to six years.
“My husband doesn’t like to play me as much now,” she joked. “I really enjoy it. I’m also a member of the pool club on Inman Street.”
Among the many benefits of playing pool, especially for seniors, are hand-eye coordination becoming a skill learned while playing, participants develop decision-making skills, it allows for competition without physical abuse, enhances communication skills, it helps develop an ability to think on one’s feet and it may be played by almost anyone regardless of age or sex, and with only rare physical restrictions.
Further, the “Harvard Health Letter” reported that for a 155-pound person, playing pool burns 93 calories in half an hour. That’s more than double the amount burned by sitting and reading. Lighter weight people burn fewer calories, while heavier people burn more, the report said.
With more and more seniors like Gipson indulging in some form of physical activity, they are deriving all sorts of benefits from such low-impact exercise, like improvements in sleep, posture and mental health. Muscle exercises also help prevent osteoporosis and reduce the risk of disease as well as providing more energy and muscle strength.
According to the American Council on Exercise at www.acefitness.org, active seniors enjoy life more and feel better. Favorites among seniors are aqua aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi, line dancing, square dancing, ballroom dancing, even taking your dog for a walk.
Sharon Westfield, coordinator at the senior center, said Gipson and her husband are regular dancers at the center. “They dress up for the occasion,” she said. “Mrs. Gipson will come and dance alone if her husband can’t make it. She really enjoys herself. We just love them.”
In April, Gipson broke her arm while reaching for clothes in their shed, accidentally stepping on a hammer and losing her balance. Although her arm was fully healed in July, the soft-spoken senior said the injury taught her a few things she did not appreciate before her accident.
“Now I lay hammers on the table,” she said with a smile. “I like to stay busy. But there were several things that were hard to do after I broke my arm, like open pickle jars, take the paper off a drinking straw, wash your hair, fasten your bra, fasten your seatbelt, unzip a purse, peel potatoes, hammer a nail, sweep the floor, vacuum, wash or dry dishes, open cans of food, tie your shoes, open a package of bacon, button your shirt, put on socks, clap your hands or play pool.”
Gipson wrote out a list she found amusing. The list also included “open child proof medicine bottles, steer a motorcycle and play the piano or guitar.”
“I have a piano and I took lessons for playing the piano and the guitar,” Gipson said. “Now that I’m healed I may have to try and play again. I probably need to.”
Now that she is back in action, Gipson said she enjoys life and staying active with her husband. Experts agree that seniors who practice physical exercise regularly are less likely to suffer from depression and panic attacks.
According to everydayhealth.com., “You will benefit from just about any type of exercise as you age, as long as you’re not at risk of injury.” If in doubt, consult a doctor.