Spring into Action: Focus on Fun and a Little Preparation

Spring into Action: Focus on Fun and a Little Preparation

Denver Recreation Centers began a gradual reopening process on May 3, which means the Active Older Adults (AOA) program is also springing back into action. In North Denver, this means classes and activities have resumed at Highland Recreation Center on West 29th Avenue and Osceola Street. The staff there—Kris, Augustina, Joe, and Ben—are excited to welcome us back.

The calendar includes Active Older Adults (AOA) favorites like bingo and billiards, as well as SilverSneakers and table tennis. The team is bringing back activities like knitting, painting, and groups for conversation and walking fitness. Whatever the last year has meant for you fitness-wise, there’s an activity geared toward having fun (would that be Drum Fitness?) and getting you back up and about.

Check out the full schedule and registration system online at https://www.denvergov.org/Government/Departments/Parks-Recreation/Activities-Programs/Active-Older-Adults.

Space is limited in order to ensure proper spacing, so you must reserve a spot in advance. Beginning at noon each day, registration opens for activities scheduled seven days out. In other words, you won’t be able to schedule a spot further than 7 days in advance. AOA hopes most people will find the online system convenient, but you can also call the center at 720-865-0600 to sign up.

Are you wondering how best to prepare for an activity after all that time at home? I’ve invited Dr. Andrew Allen of Spruce Health Group in Golden to provide a few tips for getting back out into the world over the next few months.

  • As we come upon summer, we ask our seniors to ease into their lives of social activity and exercise as they come out of a time of unprecedented inactivity and isolation and to keep a few health measures in mind.
  • The senior population must be more careful with their return to exercise and activity because they experience more chronic illnesses and tend to take many more medications than younger generations. Therefore, a consult with your physician may be in order before a return to activity or exercise. Upon your return to these increased activity levels, if you are experiencing breathlessness, dizziness, chest pain, numbness or tingling, severe muscle or joint pain, seek medical care.
  • As for the business of getting back into exercise and activities after such a long period of inactivity, it is important to remember that as seniors are coming out of a long layoff, the muscles are not as strong, tendons not as elastic, and recovery is not as swift as it used to be. To build strength and endurance back into the body slowly over several weeks. Begin with low-impact activities that improve your endurance, flexibility, and strength. Yoga, stretching classes, tai chi, gym classes, and walking with a group of friends are all great starts.
  • Build slowly into resistance training or higher impact activities on a daily or every other day basis. Remember it is very likely that you will experience a greater amount of muscle soreness and fatigue than you might usually be accustomed to. However, these discomforts and fatigue should be manageable and should dissipate quickly with a day of rest.
  • A key to anyone’s success when increasing their activity levels is nutrition. With the complexities of age, chronic illnesses, and exercise, a properly balanced diet with lots of vegetables and adequate water intake are crucial to prevent increased pain or injury as well as improve your mental and physical well-being. If soreness and cramping occur in your muscles, consider getting an electrolyte supplement with no added sugar for the cramping and begin taking turmeric for inflammation and soreness.

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About Kathryn White

Kathryn White has lived in North Denver since Mount Carmel High School was razed and its lot at 3600 Zuni became Sandoval Elementary. She and her wife have raised two children in the neighborhood. She’s worked at several nonprofits, taught SilverSneakers fitness classes, and facilitated Simplified Pickleball (a variation for people living with Alzheimer’s).

Originally published on May 14, 2021, at The Denver North Star