“We have a resident who started coming to the fitness center only a year ago, and now she’s doing almost an hour of workout classes a few times a week, plus personal training twice a week,” says Park Place of Elmhurst Well-being Program Specialist Jessica Pacheco. “People can’t believe she’s… .” (Just how old is she? Read on—and prepare to be inspired.)
People of a certain age (or any age, for that matter) don’t just wake up one day and start such an intensive workout regimen; they work up to it. As we begin a new year, here are some small, doable changes you can make to your day-to-day routine that will produce big improvements in your physical, nutritional and even emotional wellness in a surprisingly short time. Let’s pick up where we started: with fitness.
Fitness: Get Moving!
As you age, mobility and strength play a huge role in your quality of life. That’s why it’s important to incorporate physical activity into your day every day.
The first step in a successful exercise routine is setting an attainable goal and creating a plan to make it happen. Whether you want to lose weight, develop the stamina to keep up with the grandkids or improve your balance, choose a goal that means something to you. Envisioning the end result will help keep you motivated. Here at Park Place, Jessica works closely with our residents to develop routines that are easy to follow, easy to stick with and easy to adjust as fitness increases.
Jessica spends time with every new resident to help them establish their goals and have fun as they work toward them. Park Place uses a program called VirtuSense to help new residents know what to target in the gym.
“VirtuSense is an artificial intelligence program that looks at residents walking and balance and sometimes it refers them to a specialist who can provide me with the best workout plan for them to improve balance or posture for better mobility. I love it because so many times residents are referred to the fitness center and tell me they wouldn’t have come to me otherwise,” Jessica explains.
As a personal trainer and workout instructor, she works with residents to keep them active and happy. “Our classes are geared towards building up your core and overall strength. They’re also a great opportunity to meet others in the community, which makes them especially popular with newer residents.”
If you’re intimidated by exercise, low-impact workouts are a good way to get started. Examples of low-impact workouts include yoga, Pilates, water aerobics, walking, cycling and dance classes. Cardio-based workouts, which are good for your heart, have been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.
The fitness center at Park Place offers a full-body approach to physical wellness. With a heated indoor pool, gym, personal training and daily classes, there are fitness activities for everyone to stay active. From spring through fall, many of our residents walk our paved two-mile campus trail. Elmhurst is also home to some of the Midwest’s best biking trails, offering breathtaking views of protected prairieland.
The Hidden Benefits of Exercise
Wellness is about the whole body, and that includes mental health. Exercise creates the feel-good endorphins that give us a more positive attitude. Our fitness classes provide a way for residents to socialize and create new connections. Loneliness is a growing health concern for seniors, which is why we offer several classes and activities that bring people together. One thing Jessica hears often from residents is, “I wish I’d started sooner.”
Remember the dedicated “gym rat” we highlighted at the beginning of this article? She’s 96 and shows no signs of slowing down.
Nutrition: Making Better Choices
Balanced nutrition is essential for maintaining your current lifestyle, longer. Make these simple changes to your diet and you’ll be amazed at how much more enjoyment you can get out of life:
- Choose whole ingredients at the supermarket instead of heavily processed foods.
- When you dine out, choose menu items with less sodium and more vegetables to eat quality meals without sacrificing complex flavors.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables to improve your natural immunities.
- Drink plenty of water to keep joints limber and skin hydrated (i.e., not itchy) and luminous during dry winter months.
Park Place Dining Director George Carrasquilla has been with us since we opened a decade ago. He’s worked in senior living for almost 30 years and truly believes in what he does. “Food brings people together and I love that I get a chance to make a positive impact on our residents’ lives every day,” George says.
George holds a degree in dietary sciences and his team considers every ingredient when creating new dishes. Some residents come to George with health goals like lowering sodium or fat content and he works with them individually on customized meals that will help get them on the right track.
In addition to overseeing the executive chef and 60 dining employees, he meets with the resident food committee to get their feedback. When the committee makes a request, George finds a way to work it onto the menu. He also makes sure those with special dietary restrictions have flavorful options. He even drives to health food and other specialty stores to buy ingredients for residents with certain needs.
At Park Place of Elmhurst, we take pride in the availability of freshly prepared menu options. We make it easy to for residents to make the right choices. Our Market Bistro creates breakfasts and lunches from fresh produce, proteins and whole grains. With plenty of variety served daily, our dining staff is a big part of the wellness-focused lifestyle offered at Park Place.
Make This Your Year
There’s no better time to start investing in yourself than right now. Make this your year by making a few simple changes to your lifestyle. Adding a social element to your fitness routine could be the best way to hold yourself accountable for your goals. Come see for yourself how we make wellness fun at Park Place of Elmhurst. Schedule your visit today by calling one of our Life Care representatives at 630-936-4500.