The Best Of…Ten Simple Tips for Staying Fit

Published September 26, 2008, All Pawtucket All The Times

         In their younger years aging baby boomers never went onto the basket ball court without wearing their Converse, Reebok, Nike, New Balance or Nautilus tennis shoes.  This generation with their strong interest in health and fitness will not spend their retirement years as a couch potato watching television or sitting in an oak rocker on their porch.  With winter approaching, aging baby boomers can work to stay slim, trim and fit by remaining physically active.

            According to the International Council on Active Aging, aging baby boomers can become physically fit by simply following these tips:

1,  See your physician.   A medical checkup will determine whether you need to consider any medical clarifications before starting an exercise program.  Talk with your physician about any of your concerns or limitations.  After a day or two of exercise, if you experience major discomfort from working out including shortness of breath, headaches, chest pains, sore muscles and dizziness, see your physician.

2.   Look at options.  Do you join a local gym, aerobics in your house, enroll in a yoga class, make time for a daily walk in your neighborhood.  The key to your fitness success is doing your activities regularly.

3.  Know your style.  Some may like to take classes, others may prefer to go solo.  Exercising indoors may be more acceptable to some then outdoor physical activities.  Your schedule may also dictate when you can block out time, either in the morning, lunch time or evening, for your daily fitness program. 

4.  Start off slowly.  Learn to listen to your body. Be realistic when you begin to exercise and don’t overdo it at the beginning.   To reduce soreness and injury always ease your way into your fitness program.

5.  Get a buddy.  An exercise partner can be a great motivator in getting you started and to maintain a daily exercise regimen.  Whether it’s making a date with a friend to take a walk, play racket ball or golf or regularly seeing a personal trainer at your local gym, the personal interaction can motivate you to continue to exercise.

6.  Be realistic.  Don’t try to workout like you did in your younger years.  Always be realistic, setting age-related goals you expect to gain from participating in a physical exercise program.  If enormous benefits do not occur, like losing 30 pounds in one month, you might feel disappointed and quit exercising. 

7.  Make choices.  What are you willing to give up to make room for exercise?  What bad habits, (like smoking, drinking, sedentary and nonproductive activities, are you willing to give up?  It is up to you to choose wisely.

8.  Keep in motion.  Keeping moving all day long. Stretch, walk, march in place, stand and sit daily as often as you can when you are talking on the phone or watching television.  Every step counts.  A step counter will give you an idea as to how many steps you take a day.  Less active people may take about 4,000 steps or fewer per day.  Aim to do 250 to 1,000 additional steps of brisk walking, until you reach 8,000 to 10,000 steps in a day. 

9.   Create a support network.  Get your friends, colleagues and family members to support your new physical activity goals and ask them for their support and encouragement.  Consider getting others to help you keep your physical exercise commitments.  Telephone reminders from your vast network can keep you motivated and on track.

10.  Always Reward yourself.  Once you’ve reached your goals, recognize that milestone.  Treat yourself to something that reminds you what has been accomplished and encourages you to continue. 

One Final Note…Gold’s Gym Opens New Pawtucket Facility

            Finding the right gym can be as easy as getting referrals from your family and friends or shopping around for the right price or specific services that you need, says Mike Kasun, a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym, located at 550 Pawtucket Avenue in Pawtucket. “There are many gyms out there that may be cheaper than others but they just don’t offer a wide range of services.  Price, services provided, classes, and the gym’s location (being close to home or work) are key factors that people should consider when shopping around for a gym membership, he says.    

            Last Saturday,Pawtucket’s Gold’s Gym, officially opened its newly refurbished 25,000 square foot building with state-of-the art exercise equipment, notes Kasun. The new gym facility has 60 pieces of cardio equipment each with their own 14-inch plasma television; 105 pieces of resistance-training equipment, a “Cardio Cinema” where you exercise while watching a full length feature movie, a private woman’s workout room, along with a country club-like locker room. Two hundred free parking spaces surround the new gym.

            When joining Gold’s Gym, a new member receives two free personal training sessions, Kasun tells Your Later Years. “At your first session we assess what the person needs and wants to get out of their membership. Some may want to tone or lose weight while others are more interested in building up muscle strength, he notes. 

            “With information and health data gathered during this initial assessment a workout program can be especially designed for the individual.  During the second session the member is taken through a one hour work out specifically designed for them,” adds Kasun.

            Group exercise programs are also included in the Gold’s Gym’s membership price.   Kasun notes, “We have Les Mills Body Pump Class, offering a full body workout for participants using light weights.  Yoga, Step and other toning classes are also available, too,” he says, noting that all of the personal training staff is nationally certified in the classes they teach.

            Pawtucket’s Gold’s Gym, one of 650 locations nationwide offer AARP members the ability to enroll for only $49 and a savings of up to a 20 percent on their monthly membership as well as a seven day free trial membership period.  For more information, call Gold’s Gym at (401)722-6600.

            Herb Weiss is a Pawtucket-based freelance writer who covers aging, medical and health care issues.  This article appeared in the September 26, 2008 issue of My Back Yard.   He can be reached at hweissri@aol.com.

The Best Of…Volunteer Baby Boomers Work to Uplift Their Communities

Published September 17, 2008, All Pawetucket All the Time

           Throughout his life, Arthur Plitt has never seen a time when he has not expended lots of time and energy to support a good cause.  Over his fifty eight years, he has volunteered as a non-paid volunteer with dozens of nonprofit organizations throughout the Ocean State. The Oak Hill resident juggles a part-time job as a private mediator while allocating countless hours to his volunteer activities. 

             Two sons in Cub Scouts would propel the young man to take the volunteer position of Advancement Committee, chairman of the Boy Scouts of Rhode Island’s BlackstoneValley division.  A love of animals would also lead him to Roger Williams Zoo where he became a docent.  Plitt would also join the Rhode Island Jaycees and serve in its Senate and later work as an ombudsman for the Alliance for Better Long-Term Care.

 Kudos the Plitt

            Plitt now sits on the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities, heads the Pawtucket Neighborhood Alliance, and Oak Hill Neighborhood Association, serves on the Blackstone Watershed Council’s Board of Directors, and sits on the Pawtucket Arts Festival Executive Committee.  Still, the aging baby boomer still has time to work with the terminally ill as a Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island volunteer.  With 1,220 hours logged in this year supporting dying patients and their families it is no surprise that he was one of 12 statewide award winners of the Volunteer Center of Rhode Island’s 2008 outstanding volunteers.

             Plitt’s philosophical views on volunteerism can be simply summed up by his favorite phrase. That is, “The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough.”  “Butterflies, like many species, accomplish much in their short life spans.  With longer life spans, human beings are given an opportunity to accomplish a lot more and they have the time to share”, says Plitt.    

             While Plitt works with a diverse group of nonprofit organizations, fifty-four year old Patricia Zacks focuses her time and efforts on supporting the arts in Pawtucket.  Over the years, this proprietor of the Providence-based camera shop, The Camera Werks has annually organized the City’s photo contest, brought photo workshops into several public schools and senior centers.  In addition, she serves on the Board of the Friends of Excellence in Art Education, chairs the Pawtucket Arts Festival’s Program Committee and sits on its Executive Committee, and assists and networks local artists to sell their one-of-a-kind art work at Open Studio events.

             In 2007, in recognition of her efforts to support Pawtucket artists Zacks was named President Emeritus of the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative when she stepped down after serving six years. That Year the Pawtucket Foundation the Oak Hill resident was the co-recipient of the group’s prestigious “Person of the Year” award. 

 Baby Boomers Volunteer at Higher Rates 

             Aging Baby Boomers, Plitt and Zacks, are not unique in their desire to give back to their local community.  According to a 2006 Issue Brief published by the Corporation for National & Community Service (NCS), today’s Baby Boomers volunteer at a higher rate than past generations did at roughly the same age.  Findings from the 2007 Keeping Baby Boomers Volunteering (KBBV) report were cited throughout this NCS Issue Brief.

             The 2007 (KBBV) report noted that the volunteer rate for those ages 46 to 57 today, is significantly higher than both the 25.3 percent recorded by the 46 to 57 age cohort in 1974 (Greatest Generation, born 1910-1930) and the 23.2 percent recorded in 1989 (Silent Generation, born 1931-1945.)

             Additionally, the 2007 (KBBV) report also found that remaining in the workforce increased the likelihood that a Baby Boomer will continue to volunteer. 60.5 percent Baby Boomer volunteers who leave the workforce will continue to volunteer the following year compared to 69.3 percent who continue to work.

             The 2007 (KBBV) report also mentions two predictors of the relatively high volunteer rates of Baby Boomers: high education level and having children later in life. 

             Middle age adults are nearly three times likely to have a four-year college degree today.  When their children leave home the Boomers would maintain their high volunteer rates because of their high education levels and expectations that they will work longer, the report notes.

            The 2007 (KBBV) report notes that today’s Boomers, ages 41 to 59, are more likely to volunteer with religious organizations. The second most popular place to volunteer is educational or youth service organizations.

          Finally, the (KBBV) 2007 report findings indicate that the more hours a Baby Boomer devotes to volunteering, the more like he or she will volunteer throughout their lives.  Nearly 9 of 10 Baby Boomer volunteers who serve 100 to 499 hours a year volunteer again the following year, compared to just over 5 in 10 who serve 1 to 14 hours.

             Aging Baby Boomers Plitt and Zacks have brought their life experiences, time and energy to making their community a better place to live, just like millions of their Baby Boomer cohorts throughout the nation. 

             For more information about volunteering contact Volunteer Center of Rhode Island.  Go to www.vcri.org.

             Herb Weiss is a Pawtucket-based free lance writer who covers aging, health care and medical issues.   This article was published in the September 17, 2008 issue of All Pawtucket All the Time. He can be reached at hweissri@aol.com.