Staying physically and mentally active can slow down the aging process

Death and taxes are often declared the two inescapable parts of life. But there’s at least one other clear truth: if you’re living, you’re aging.

How we age is, to at least to some degree, up to us. But virtually all experts agree that staying physically and mentally active helps at any age, and certainly into old age.

We’ll elaborate and then help you identify some potential local options for helping achieve your goals. (Even baby steps could you ahead of the crowd. Why? Researchers estimate that more than half of all adults ages 65 and over are considered physically inactive.)

The Centers for Disease Control lists several benefits of physical activity, including:

*Weight control

*a lower risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome

* stronger bones and muscles

* better mood and mental health

* reduced risk of falls

* greater ability to perform daily living task

* And last, but hardly least, a longer life.

Just as physical inactivity makes your muscles flabby so can mental inactivity affect your brain. Many of the changes in the brain that are normally associated with aging are really related to lifestyle, researchers have found. Multiple studies also suggest that inactive brain can have a negative effect on a personal’s overall health.

Of course, a diet that’s rich in fiber and low in fat lays a good groundwork. It’s also recommended that you have regular check-ups with your doctor, dentist and optometrist, take all medications as directed, go easy on the alcohol, put down the cigarettes and get the sleep your body needs.

Let’s get physical

Physical activity: About 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity once a week is recommended. For older adults, the recommendation is a combination of aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises. Consider this:

Walking is widely considered one of the best exercises for any age, but particularly seniors. And if you find exercising alone no fun, here’s a few of the walking clubs for seniors in metro Atlanta:

McDaniel Marchers at McDaniel Farm Park

3251 McDaniel Road, Duluth www.gwinnettcounty.com.

The McDaniel Marchers meet on the third Wednesday and Saturday of each month from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and welcome anyone interested in walking as part of a group around the 1930’s preservation farm. There’s a nominal annual fee to join.

Golden Trotters Walking Club at JP Carr Gym

90 Hardin St. SW, Conyers, www.creeksideconyers.com.

This group, with plenty of get-up-and-go meets at the JP Carr Gym Monday through Thursday mornings throughout the year.

New Life Walkers Club at the Cobb Senior Wellness Center

1150 Powder Springs St., Suite 100, Marietta. (770) 528-5355. www.cobbcounty.org.

Enjoy all the amenities at the Cobb Senior Wellness Center while getting fit with the New Life Walkers Club. They meet for an hour of walking on the first Thursday of each month from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Marietta.

North Cobb Hiking Club at the North Cobb Senior Center

4100 Old Highway 41, Acworth, (770) 974-2984. www.northcobbhikingclub.weebly.com.

This group of mostly retired walkers and hikers meet once a week to enjoy the trails around North Georgia. Hikes range from 4 to 6 miles and take place within 25 miles of the Cobb Senior Center in Acworth.

Other groups/places where the focus is on physical activity:

Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA)

5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody, 678-812-4000

Open to all faiths, the center hosts over 85 group exercise classes a week.

Atlanta Fitness

460 Newnan Crossing Bypass, Newnan. (770) 251-9909

The AF Seniors Class provides a low-impact aerobic workout for all fitness levels. It’s designed to increase strength, range of motion and agility while making daily activities easier. A chair is used in the workout.

Silver Sneakers

Atlanta, Decatur locations, silversneakers.com.

SilverSneakers classes are offered at fitness clubs and churches. Classes offered include classic fitness, cardio fit, stability and more.

Park Place at Newtown School

3125 Old Alabama Road, Johns Creek. (678) 512-3200

This active adult center is designed for seniors age 62 and up. Classes include yoga, Zumba, outdoor fitness, strength and balance.

Stimulating the brain

Cross word puzzles, reading and word jumbles can help get the mind working. Mood and memory also can be enhanced by keeping active and socializing, and that means everything from setting up regular outings with friends, to hitting an arts and crafts program at the local senior center and even to putting your natural interests to work volunteering.

Here are some outlets for staying mentally engaged and healthy.

Senior Resources

Let’s you find in your county almost anything your mind can conceive, from computers to ballroom dancing, exercise, painting and motorcycle riding.

http://atlanta-senior-resources.com/classes/

Volunteermatch.org

This website includes information on organizations looking for all kinds of help, from delivering meals to the homebound to assisting in end-of-life hospice.

https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/index.jsp?r=msa&l=39901&categories=12

Center for Positive Aging http://www.centerforpositiveaging.org/senior_assistance_programs.html

The center exists to assist in connecting elders to the resources they need. The center provides a list of educational resources, as well as opportunities, for seniors.

Building body and mind

Here’s a sampling of places that offer activities stimulating both the mind and body of the senior.

Aline Wolfe Adult Recreation Center

884 Church St., Smyrna (678) 631-5541

This center is geared to 55-plus adults and offers aquatic exercise, dance and fitness classes. It has a meeting room/game room, arts and crafts room, and fitness room complete with state-of-the-art exercise equipment designed especially for senior adults. Regular activities include day trips and group fitness classes.

DeKalb Medical Wellness Center

2701 North Decatur Road, Decatur (404) 501-1000

Senior Spectrum features health education programs led by DeKalb Medical physicians and trips to local Atlanta hotspots and elsewhere for social fun.

Atlanta Office of Recreation

The office provides programs to help seniors stay young both physically and mentally throughout the city. At centers across the city, there are opportunities for physical fitness, social networking (via arts and crafts, educational seminars and trips to Stone Mountain Park, local outdoor parks, theaters and festivals.

Check for details at any of these participating centers.

• Adamsville Recreation Center, 3201 M. L. King Jr. Drive S.W., 404-505-3181

• Bessie Branham Recreation Center, 2051 Delano Drive N.E., 404-371-5010

• Butler Park Recreation Center, 98 William Holmes Borders Drive S.E., 404-658-6034

• C.A. Scott Recreation Center, 1565 M.L. King Jr. Drive, (404) 756-1857

• Coan Park Recreation Center, 1530 Woodbine Avenue S.E., (404) 371-5008

• Dunbar Recreation Center, 477 Windsor Street S.W., (404) 658-7117

• Grove Park Recreation Center, 750 Frances Place N.W., (404) 799-2342

• Old Adamsville Recreation Center, 3404 Delmar Avenue SW., (404) 505-3142

• Perkerson Park Recreation Center, 770 Deckner Avenue S.W., (404) 756-1859

• Pittman Park Recreation Center, 950 Garibaldi Avenue S.E., (404) 215-2824

• Rosel Fann Recreation Center, 365 Cleveland Avenue S.E., (404) 624-0772

• Zaban Recreation Center 241 Daniel Avenue, (404) 371-5012

Read more: http://www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?page=1163

Fulton County government has four multipurpose facilities providing “one stop” sites for seniors, 55 and older, to access an array of resources, including life enrichment classes, nutrition, education, fitness, leisure and recreational activities. These buildings feature cafeterias, exercise equipment, therapeutic pools, computer training centers and art classrooms. They are:

*Dorothy C. Benson Senior Multipurpose Facility, 6500 Vernon Woods Dr., Sandy Springs (404) 613-4900

* Harriett G. Darnell Senior Multipurpose Facility, 677 Fairburn Road, N.W. (404) 613-8580

*H.J.C. Bowden Senior Multipurpose Facility, 2885 Church Street, East Point, (404) 613-6131

*Helene S. Mills Senior Multipurpose Facility, 515 John Wesley Dodds, (404) 523-3353

DeKalb County

Lou Walker Senior Center 2538 Panola Road, Lithonia http://louwalkercenter.com/

This is a multipurpose facility for active seniors 55 and older. The center offers activities to stimulate the mind and body – whether you are an athletic “silver sneaker,” aspiring photographer, crocheting enthusiast or cook. Senior facilities include a swimming pool, guy, on-site hair salon and barber shop and vegetable garden. Volunteer opportunities are also available at the center, where the motto is: “our seniors don’t retire, they refire.”

The Central DeKalb Senior Center provides programs and activities for county residents 62 and up that promote health, wellness, social interaction, community engagement, education, and independence. The center is at 1346 McDonnell Drive, Decatur. Phone is 770-492-5461. For more details, go to www.dekalbcountyga.gov/human-development/central-dekalb-senior-center

Metro Atlanta YMCAs

They offer classes and equipment for staying healthy and in shape, including but not limited to adult swim lessons, diabetes prevention, group exercise and fitness, personal coaching and weight loss management. Some classes are specifically geared to seniors, but check with the YMCA for details. Locations include:

*Carl E. Sanders Family YMCA at Buckhead,1160 Moores Mill Rd NW (404) 350-9292

*Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA, 2200 Campbellton Road, SW (404) 523-9622

Decatur YMCA, 1100 Clairmont Ave. (404) 377-9622

Covington Family YMCA, 2140 Newton Dr. NE (770) 787-3908

Cowart Family YMCA, 3692 Ashford Dunwoody Rd, Atlanta (770) 451-9622

East Lake Family YMCA, 275 E. Lake Blvd SE, Atlanta (404) 373-6561

Ed Isakson/Alpharetta Family YMCA, 3655 Preston Ridge Rd, Alpharetta (770) 664-1220

Forsyth County Family YMCA, Vickery Village, 6050 Y St, Cumming (770) 888-2788

G.Cecil Pruett Community Center Family YMCA, 151 Waleska St, Canton (770) 345-9622

J.M. Tull Gwinnett Family YMCA, 2985 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Lawrenceville (770) 963-1313

McCkeskey-East Cobb Family YMCA,1055 E Piedmont Rd (770) 977-5991

Northeast Cobb Family YMCA, 3010 Johnson Ferry Rd, Marietta (678) 569-

Northwest Family YMCA, 1700 Dennis Kemp Lane, NW, Kennesaw ( 770) 423-9622

Robert D Fowler Family YMCA, 5600 W Jones Bridge Rd, Peachtree Corners (770) 246-9622

South DeKalb Family YMCA, 2565 Snapfinger Rd, Decatur (770) 987-3500

Villages at Carver Family YMCA, 1600 Pryor Rd SW, Atlanta (404) 635-9622

Wade Walker Family YMCA, 5605 Rockbridge Rd SW, Stone Mountain ( 678)-781-9622

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