STATEN ISLAND, NY — Adults aged 55 years and older now represent one of the fastest growing age groups in fitness, according to the YMCA. The national organization recently celebrated the Active Older Adults Day to recognize health benefits of exercise for seniors.

“The YMCA strives to create a year-round atmosphere of caring and support for older adults,” said Lisa Talley, spokesperson for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga in a recent issue of the Chattanoogan. “This special day gives us the opportunity to showcase our range of programming for this particular group of adults.”

Talley says the Y offers programs for seniors so they can stay fit and get involved in their communities. For example, the Y chapter in Chattanooga features People with Arthritis Can Exercise (PACE) classes, shallow water and deep water exercise classes, strength training and social activities. During the celebration on May 18, the Y offered health screenings, free exercise classes, free demonstrations and refreshments. Four branches of the Y in greater Buffalo, NY, also marked the day with free open houses for adults over the age of 55. The events featured presentations from senior service organizations, games and information on senior programs including aerobics, aquatics and weight training.

The Y in Staten Island, NY, has participated in the national Active Older Adults Day for the past eight years. More than 100 members and guests celebrated the annual event by entering a raffle for a recumbent bicycle, attending a lecture by a physical therapist, participating in aquatics and aerobics classes, eating a healthy lunch and getting glucose and cholesterol screenings. Shelly Farina, senior program director for health and wellness, said more than 2,000 of her 14,000 members are over the age of 55, and all of her senior members look forward to the event each year.

“We have such a large older adult contingency, and it's our way of celebrating them,” said Farina. “Today's seniors are health conscious and are involved with fitness. They shouldn't be told to stay at home and lay down. They should be active because the more they move, the more functional they will be.”

According to the International Council on Active Aging, here are some questions trainers should ask when working with an older adult:

  • What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish with an exercise program?

  • Have you exercised before? How did it feel?

  • What are your physical limitations?

  • Do you have any medical condition I should know about? (e.g., cardiovascular disease, diabetes or back pain)

  • Have you ever had a joint replacement?

  • Are you taking any medications?

  • Has your physician or physical therapist cleared you for exercise?

To see more of the checklist go to www.icaa.cc.