“You are never too old to exercise”” should be the 11th Commandment according to Susan Bleggi, RN, director of Wellness Programs for the Copeland Oaks Retirement Community in Sebring.

“Many of the infirmities of older age—like limitations in walking distances, climbing stairs or carrying groceries—are largely due to lack of physical activity,” notes Bleggi. “Some folks are worried that exercise will cause illness or injury,” continued Bleggi, “but what they may not realize is that it could be more risky not to exercise. When older people lose their ability to do things on their own, it doesn’t happen just because they have aged. It’s usually because they are not active.”

According to the American Association of Retired People, 40 percent of people between ages 45 and 64 are considered sedentary. For people over age 64, 60 percent are sedentary.The U. S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that seniors have even more to gain than younger people by becoming active because they are at higher risk for health problems that physical activity can prevent.

“Some people may wonder what the difference is between physical activity and exercise,” observed Bleggi. She explained that physical activities are those that get your body moving such as gardening, dancing, walking the dog, or playing a round of golf. Examples of exercise are weight training tai chi, or an aerobics class—physical activities that are planned, structured and repetitive. “Including both in your schedule will provide you with health benefits that can help you feel better and enjoy life more as you age,” commented Bleggi.

Copeland Oaks Retirement Community offers opportunities on the 250-acre campus for both physical activity and exercise.

A honeycomb of paths around the 5-acre Lake Copeland offers safe, scenic routes for walking year round. The 5K nature trail through the wooded, undeveloped part of the Copeland campus is perfect for hikers and mountain bikers to enjoy Ohio flora and fauna as they exercise. The campus is pet friendly, so residents are welcome to have their dog join them on a walk or hike.

Each Spring, two large areas are plowed on the Copeland campus where residents are invited to plot-off their garden space for growing flowers and vegetables. Available for anytimeuse are shuffleboard courts, a putting green and the warm-water, indoor swimming pool.

Copeland residents are welcome to play golf at the nearby Sebring Country Club without charge any day during the season.

Bleggi offers a full menu of exercise classes each week in the Copeland Wellness Center. Classes include: step aerobics and stability ball; cardiocircuit; tone and balance, Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi. For the less active folks or those with balance issues, “Sit and Get Fit” classes offer exercise routines while participants are seated in a chair.

“When it comes to exercise for seniors, consistency is more important than intensity,” Bleggi explained. “At least 30 minutes of exercise daily is recommended, But, even brief amounts of physical activity like 10 minutes three times a day can beneficial.”

Bleggi reported that all physical activities and Wellness Center classes and programs are offered to Copeland residents free of charge. Members of the Copeland Oaks and Crandall Medical Center staff are welcomed and encouraged to attend any of the Wellness Center classes or programs at the pool without charge.

“Research suggests that exercise and physical activity can help everyone maintain or restore strength, balance, flexibility and endurance, Growing older does not mean you have to become weak or loose your ability to do everyday tasks. Exercise can help adults of any age feel better and enjoy life more, even those who think they are too old or too out of shape,” Bleggi emphasized.