“Health is a state of body. Wellness is a state of being.” – J. Stanford.

At Plymouth Harbor we couldn’t agree more. Over the years, our definition of healthy living has certainly expanded. When we first opened our doors in 1966, an active lifestyle simply meant engaging in activities such as gardening and shuffleboard. Years later, a new approach — “wellness” — started becoming more prominent. Wellness offers a unique perspective on healthy living, one that emphasizes a balance of social, spiritual, community, professional, emotional, intellectual, and physical activities.

Along with this approach came a new definition of physical wellness, one that had grown to include more comprehensive fitness programming like those seen at the YMCA and other health clubs. In keeping with this trend, Plymouth Harbor opened the doors to our very own state-of-the-art Wellness Center in 2014, featuring professional staff, new equipment, knowledgeable instructors, and variety of fitness classes. With experienced staff onsite, residents were now able to receive a multitude of benefits, including fitness assessments, orientations, and enhanced programming.

By 2015, with the help of contracted instructors, the Wellness Center was able to offer at least 10 separate fitness classes each month, meeting two to three times per week. Today, the Wellness Center has expanded so much that weekend classes were added to our monthly programming in order to offer more options for our residents. Thirteen different classes are now provided, including our latest additions, Sit Fit+ and Yoga, which are offered on Saturday mornings. In addition, the Wellness Center continues to produce numerous take-home brochures, DVDs, and guidelines for in-home fitness.

Resident Elsa Price is a familiar face in the Wellness Center. While she used to regularly attend scheduled classes, Elsa now focuses her attention on dancing — with private dance lessons in the Group Fitness Room with instructor Jim Helmich (who also teaches one of our Line Dancing classes). Elsa says, “Not too many years ago, the Wellness Center looked quite different. Now, we have a beautiful center that is staffed by very competent people, and a dance floor that provides space not only for dancing but also for fitness. This dedication to mobility promotes a pathway to good health. It’s a wonderful improvement and a welcoming sign for those coming in.”

We are thrilled that the Wellness Center has become such an important resource in the daily lives of our residents, and we look forward to continually expanding our offerings.

 

By: Chris Cooper, Wellness Director

On Thursday, August 17th, Plymouth Harbor held its second annual Employee Health Fair. The Health Fair is part of Plymouth Harbor’s award-winning employee wellness program, OnBoard, which was implemented in 2014.

The goal of the program is to enhance the overall well-being of employees through the seven dimensions of wellness: Environmental/Community; Emotional; Intellectual; Physical; Professional/Vocational; Social; and Spiritual.

OnBoard strives to develop and maintain programs that build stronger employees and encourage them to take a proactive role when it comes to their health and well-being. In January 2017, OnBoard implemented a new incentive program where employees may earn OnBoard Wellness Rewards Bucks by participating in events, like Learn and Earn lunches and the Health Fair, and use those Bucks to reduce their insurance premiums for the following year. Currently, Plymouth Harbor has 155 employees participating in this program.

The Health Fair was held in the Wellness Center and was open to all employees, including those who are not on Plymouth Harbor’s insurance. The event included Biometric Screenings (a blood screening that measures items like glucose and cholesterol) and several vendors such as our Employee Health Coach, a registered dietitian, dermatologist, local dental office, and more. The event also included giveaways and prizes for those in attendance, including FitBits, a Nutri Bullet Blender, and a kayak (pictured right with winner Lori Hoskins, Dining Services).

Employees extend sincere thanks for allowing use of the Wellness Center for this annual event. We look forward to continually improving the health and well-being of our staff.

 

By: Chris Cooper, Wellness Director

For years, I have fielded questions, addressed concerns, and engaged in debate over the benefits of exercise for an older population. While most questions were great, many were based on myths and even fear. Because of this, I thought it might be interesting to share some of the most common myths of exercise relative to an older population.

Myth: Exercise will make your arthritis worse.
This is not true. Aquatic exercise is one of the best forms of exercise for persons with arthritis, offering a resistance that promotes muscular strength and cardiovascular conditioning. It is gentle, safe, and can be modified to suit the participant. We offer two levels of aquatic exercise every week in the Wellness Center — you do not have to be able to swim and your head stays above water at all times. However, to have a pleasant experience in class, you should feel comfortable in water.

You might also try a recumbent bike or the Nu-Step. These types of equipment are gentle on the joints because they are not full weight-bearing. They are always available in the Wellness Center’s fitness room. We offer equipment orientations Monday through Friday. Call Ext. 377 to schedule yours.

Myth: If you have heart problems, it isn’t safe to exercise.
This is another myth. Most cardiac rehab participants are encouraged to perform cardiovascular exercise seven days a week. With doctor approval, you may engage in many forms of cardiovascular
exercise right in the Wellness Center (i.e. bike, Nu-Step, treadmill, rower, group fitness classes, etc.) — you would just need the appropriate type, intensity, and time.

Myth: If you exercise regularly, you may over-exert yourself and feel tired all day.
Actually, it is just the opposite. Many regular exercisers find they have more energy. This is not surprising. Because of the tremendous conditioning effect of consistent exercise, you are able to do more throughout the day.

Myth: In order to stay injury-free, avoid exercise if you cannot perform them correctly.
There is no easy out here! You can learn to perform the exercises correctly. You are more at risk for injury by not conditioning your body to move by bending, stretching, lifting, pulling, and walking regularly.

Source: Riebe, D., Ehrman, J., Liguori, G., & Magal, M., (Eds.). (2018). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (Tenth Edition). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health.

 

By: Chris Cooper, Wellness Director

For years, I have fielded questions, addressed concerns, and engaged in debate over the benefits of exercise for an older population. While most questions were great, many were based on myths and even fear. Because of this, I thought it might be interesting to share some of the most common myths of exercise relative to an older population.

Myth: Exercise isn’t a good idea for older people.
While it is always recommended to receive an exercise clearance from your doctor, it is a rare occurrence that a doctor would not recommend some sort of physical activity. The benefits almost always outweigh any potential risk. What is more important is to choose the right type of exercise as well as the appropriate intensity. Type refers to the kind of exercise, such as walking, biking, or using Nu-Step. Intensity can vary from low to vigorous, with moderate being appropriate for most people. A low intensity, with a slower warmup, and a shorter exercise session may be the best bet for persons just getting into exercise to decrease the risk of injury while still promoting fitness. Overall, exercise is excellent for producing stronger bones and muscles, better balance, increased flexibility, and it stalls cognitive decline.

Myth: If you have balance problems, exercising might make you fall.
You are at greater risk of falling by not practicing balance than you are by performing balance exercises. Just as with strength, cardiovascular, or stretching exercises….start slow, perform exercises that are a bit challenging but attainable, and progress over time. We offer balance exercises in most of the group fitness classes and have a Biodex Balance machine that is available at any time. Please see me for a demonstration and instruction.

Myth: You should refrain from exercise classes if you are unable to stand for very long.
If the inability to stand for long periods is a concern, no problem! We have three different chair-based classes, and standing at any point is optional. These classes are of varying intensity and are suitable for most ability levels: Body Moves (mild intensity), Sit Fit (moderate), Sit Fit+ (a bit more advanced). The Sit Fit classes offer an excellent balance training segment at the beginning of each class, as well as sit-to-stand chair squats to promote strength, balance, and coordinated movement.

Source: Riebe, D., Ehrman, J., Liguori, G., & Magal, M., (Eds.). (2018). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (Tenth Edition). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health

 

Resident David Beliles discusses his childhood, living through the Depression, and building his own newspaper business, with the help of his wife, Ruth, into what we know today as The Observer Group.

View his June 2017 Insights presentation here:
 

 

By: Chris Cooper, Wellness Director

Many residents enjoy outdoor activity year-round. Whether it’s walking to the circle or over the bridge, strolling the campus or playing bocce, exercising safely and using precautions while in the Florida sun is crucial. Overexposure to the sun and heat put everyone at risk for hyperthermia, but according to the National Institutes of Health, it is particularly dangerous for an older population.

Hyperthermia is an abnormally high body temperature and includes all of the following:

-Heat Syncope — a sudden dizziness during activity in hot weather. Note: If you take a beta-blocker heart medication, you are even more likely to feel faint.
-Heat Cramps — a painful tightening of muscles in your stomach, arms, or legs. The body temperature and pulse usually stay normal during heat cramps; your skin may feel moist and cool.
-Heat Edema — a swelling in your ankles and feet when you get hot.
-Heat Exhaustion — a warning that your body can no longer keep itself cool. You might feel thirsty, dizzy, weak, uncoordinated, and nauseated. You may sweat a lot. Your body temperature may stay normal, but your skin may feel cold and clammy. Some people with heat exhaustion have a rapid pulse. Untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to life-threatening heat stroke.
-Heat Stroke — an EMERGENCY requiring medical help immediately. Signs of heat stroke include: fainting or becoming unconscious; behavior change – confusion, agitation, staggering, being grouchy; body temperature over 104°F (40°C); Dry, flushed skin and a strong, rapid pulse or a slow, weak pulse; not sweating (even if it is hot outside).

According to the National Institute on Aging, most people who die from hyperthermia are over 50 years old. Health problems that put this population at greater risk include:

-Heart or blood vessel problems
-Poorly working sweat glands or changes in your skin caused by normal aging
-Heart, lung, or kidney disease, and any illness that makes you feel weak or results in a fever
-Conditions treated by drugs, such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and some heart and high blood pressure medicines. They may make it harder for your body to cool itself.
-Prescription drugs; ask your doctor if any may make you more likely to become overheated
-Being very overweight or underweight
-Drinking alcoholic beverages

Reduce your risk! If you prefer the outdoors for exercise, consider ways to reduce your risk for a heat-related illness. Check the weather before you go out — not only current air temperature, but also humidity and UV ray levels are easily obtainable on your cell phone or on the web. Make sure you are hydrated before you go out; stay hydrated by carrying a water bottle with you. Keep yourself cool in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, and do not forget a hat. Do not exercise, garden, or even lie by the pool during the hottest time of day (10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.). Your best location when it really heats up? The Wellness Center! Temperature-controlled to 72 degrees year-round, and you can’t beat the view.

Source: Calvin, Kim. “Advice for older people on staying safe in hot weather.” National Institute on Aging. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 11 July 2016. Web. 16 May 2017.

 

Resident Sue Johnson discusses growing up in Brooklyn, becoming one of the first female superintendents in the country, and her marriage to a “Georgia Boy.”

View her May 2017 Insights presentation here:
 

 

On Monday, April 3rd, the Residents Association Executive Council held its annual meeting in Pilgrim Hall. Over 200 residents attended the meeting, which covered a number of pertinent issues.

Most notably, the association voted to change their by-laws so that the fiscal year of the Residents Association now aligns with the calendar year of the Plymouth Harbor Corporation — operating from January to January, rather than April to April as done since its founding. The Executive Council and Board of Directors reviewed this proposed resolution and unanimously voted to approve it.

Residents were also given a copy of the resolution in early March. To accomplish this transition, all currently serving officers, directors, and committee chairs will extend their terms for the interim period, which will last until the 2018 annual meeting on January 8, 2018.

Other important items discussed include Rev. Dick Sparrow accepting the position as our permanent Chaplain, rather than interim; a resident portal, accessible by computer, will be available later this year; and a new resource has been added to the library, which provides an inside look into the inner workings of each resident committee.

At the end of the meeting, Dr. Duncan Finlay, Chair of the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees, spoke to the range of expertise and the enthusiasm that the trustees bring to the oversight of the plans and activities of Plymouth Harbor. Congratulations to all on another successful year for the Residents Association!

 
 

By: Chris Cooper, Wellness Director

We have all heard the benefits of exercise either from our doctors or in literature. Usually it is in reference to aerobic exercise, such as walking or biking, because of its cardiovascular-enhancing benefit as well as its ability to decrease risk for disease and increase weight loss. It is the go-to prescription for health enhancement at any age.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society concluded that weekly resistance training sessions not only resulted in strength gains but also significant improvements in cognitive function in older adults who presented with mild cognitive impairment. 1

Simply put, resistance-training exercises are proving to be a powerful tool for enhancing brain function as well as resulting in stronger bones and muscles.

This is not the first study to show the cognitive benefits of exercise. However, this particular study differs in that the researchers set out to determine if the cognitive improvements were a result of enhanced cardiovascular capacity or enhanced muscular strength. Participants performed 2-3 strength training sessions per week along with aerobic exercise and were regularly tested on cognitive ability. At the end of the study, only the persons with enhanced strength gains were associated with improvements in cognition. This illustrates that maintaining/improving muscle strength contributes to brain health as well.

If you are interested in reading this complete study and learning the mechanisms for these gains, please see the reference below:

1) Mavros Y, Gates N, Wilson GC, et al. Mediation of Cognitive Function Improvements by Strength Gains After Resistance Training in Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment: Outcomes of the Study of Mental and Resistance Training. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2016.