Active Seniors Stay Healthy

By Sue Freeman

In our 40’s, my husband and I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. It was an immensely rewarding, but arduous 6 month journey, backpacking along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia to Maine. Early in the trek we met a couple with frail looking bodies, white hair, and wrinkles – obviously our seniors by quite a few years. As time went on, we became good friends and hiked together for many weeks. It was then that I gained an understanding and respect for the capabilities of seniors. This couple could easily out-hike us. They beat us both in stamina and speed. And, come to find out, she was a breast cancer survivor! I came to understand that age is irrelevant.

If you stay active both mentally and physically, it’s amazing what you can achieve. This couple served as a role model for me. I plan to follow in their footsteps – literally – and continue with active adventures well into my senior years. So far, it’s working. I now qualify as a senior citizen (AARP hounds me endlessly) and each year my husband and I make a point to embark on several active adventures.

Lately we’ve hiked across the plains and up volcanic mountains in Africa, backpacked through Big Cypress Swamp in Florida, paddled several wild & scenic rivers in Florida, backpacked the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska, and built several bridges for the Florida Trail.

But, staying active doesn’t have to mean big adventures. The little, everyday activities are vitally important. Go for a walk on local trails, take a bike ride on a rail-trail, play a round of golf (walk, don’t ride in a cart), play tennis, rent a kayak and go for a paddle, try in-line skating, dance, join a yoga class …… the options are almost endless. The point is – get active and stay active and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in your golden years.

Even if you haven’t been active, start now. It’s never too late. It’s spring time, the perfect time to get outside and watch as plants spring back to life after their winter dormancy. Walk your neighborhood. You may even meet some neighbors. Go to Powder Mills Park and walk the Daffodil Trail to sit on a bench among thousands of blooming King Alfred daffodils, nestled along Irondequoit Creek. Walk along the Ponte de Rennes pedestrian bridge in downtown Rochester and watch the thunderous spring waters plummet down High Falls. Bike the Erie Canalway Trail out toward Palmyra and learn about “change bridges” to stretch your mind and body. Start small and it can lead to big things.

Guidebooks can help by providing ideas and details for new, interesting adventures. Some local ones to use for inspiration include (available from www.footprintpress.com or call 1-800-431-1579):
• Take A Hike – Family Walks in the Rochester Area
• Take Your Bike – Family Rides in the Rochester Area
• Take A Hike – Family Walks in New York’s Finger Lakes Region
• Take Your Bike – Family Rides in New York’s Finger Lakes Region
• 200 Waterfalls in Central & Western New York – A Finders’ Guide

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