Want to live longer? Want to live those extra years with vitality, agility and strength? A growing number of scientific studies are pointing to exercise as the single best way to hold back the hands of time. In some cases, exercise can even reverse the aging process. Scientists are even starting to call exercise ``the fountain of youth!''
Doing at least half an hour of exercise three to five times a week will give you the following amazing results: 1) more energy; 2) stronger muscles; 3) sturdier bones; 4) better balance; 5) a sharper mind; 6) a better immune system; 7) increased flexibility; 8) improved digestion; 9) better sleep; 10) relief from pain; 11) better mental health and relief from stress; 12) increase in ``good'' cholesterol; and 13) pleasure!
Fortunately, right here in Juneau there are a variety of exercise opportunities for senior citizens. Swimming is a gentle, often recommended means of exercising for seniors. The Augustus Brown Swimming Pool located next to the high school offers a Stretch Aquatics class, an Aqua Aerobics class and a Water Walking class, to name a few. Call 586-5325 between noon and 2 p.m. for information on these and other swim classes.
Walking is another great way to exercise. Juneau is blessed with lovely nature trails, many of which are featured in the booklet ``90 Short Walks,'' available at the City Museum. In the summer, you can go berry picking with a friend or hike along with the Wednesday and Saturday morning Parks and Rec group (call 586-5226 for location). In the winter, or actually anytime, the Nugget Mall welcomes persons to try some ``Mall Walking,'' beginning at 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Yoga offers the benefits of stretching, toning and relaxation through very gentle methods. The Yoga Den, located above Heritage Coffee downtown, has classes posted on their bulletin board. Yoga is available in the Valley at Bodyworks, located in the Mendenhall Mall annex. Bodyworks also has treadmills for walking and staff persons who can provide instruction and supervision on use of the various machines available.
Speaking of health clubs, Curves For Women in the Valley invites newcomers to come in anytime and offers a free workout to see what it is like. Fitness Plus has a lot of weight training and cardio equipment, featuring a certified trainer specializing in strength training for the mature adult. The Juneau Racquet Club has the ``Life Fitness Program,'' which includes stretching, light aerobics, light dumbbells and special exercises to promote balance. The average age of the class is 73 years young.
Free exercise classes are available too. Volunteer Grace Weinberg leads a senior exercise class at Northern Light United Church each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 to 11 a.m. In the same time slot, Linda Miller volunteers her time leading a senior exercise class at the Valley Senior Center. Andrea Ebona of SEARHC offers a free step-aerobics class at the Zach Gordon Youth Center. She can be reached at 463-5850.
A lot of the changes we used to think were a natural part of aging are the result of inactivity and lack of use. Moderate activity even just once a week will make you stronger and healthier. Please discuss a new exercise regimen with your doctor before you begin. Whether you choose swimming, walking or lifting weights, your independence, mobility and quality of life will be enhanced. So what are you waiting for? Make a commitment right now to step into that ``fountain of youth!''
Marianne Mills oversees senior citizen nutrition and transportation programs for Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka as a staff member of Southeast Senior Services, a program of Catholic Community Service (CCS). CCS assists all persons regardless of their faith.