Staying fit and active is important for seniors who want to maintain their long-term health and independence. For residents at Inland Christian Home, the Independent Living exercise group makes it easy. The group promotes health and wellness, all while giving residents the chance to stay social and involved in their community.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, rain or shine, a group of dedicated Independent Living residents meets in the Friendship Center for a resident-led exercise class that includes stretching, balance training, and light aerobics. Accompanied by soothing music, residents follow a complete routine from warm-up to cool-down. The regimen works both the upper and lower body, as well as specific muscle groups.

The thirty-minute class, which begins promptly at 9:30 am on meeting days, makes use of weights, resistance bands, and body weights with movements that can be performed either standing or sitting. The routine, combined with support from the group’s participants, is designed to let each resident work at the pace and skill level with which they are comfortable.

“The exercises are at a level we all can do,” said Sandy Neale, a newer member who feels that joining the exercise group has helped her adjust to moving to a new community. This sentiment is shared by many of the group’s participants, and it is this welcoming, pressure-free environment that makes it ideal for newcomers to join and get to know other residents of the community.

Residents maintain social distancing while exercising and are free to sit out any exercise they are unable to do or take a break whenever needed. Exercise improves balance, mood, strength, and energy, and can even help slow the loss of bone density. But the group does much more for residents than just helping them stay in shape. It also gives them a connection to their community and a chance to socialize that they may not otherwise have. This is especially important in light of the findings of the Harvard Study of Adult Development which show that exercising social connections is just as important as physical exercise to overall long-term health and happiness.

The group usually includes fifteen to twenty residents, many of whom have been attending since its inception more than five years ago. Some residents attend every session without fail, while others attend whenever their schedules allow. A wide range of ages is represented, including a centenarian, and participants enjoy the camaraderie that comes with sharing common interests and goals.

A newly redesigned space is in the works for a permanent fitness center with exercise equipment. This space, paired with the regular meetings of Inland’s exercise group, will give residents the perfect way to pursue the good health and happiness they desire and deserve.