The health and fitness benefits of regular physical activity are well documented regardless of one’s age. For those of a “certain age” physical activity takes on renewed importance even if that activity is simply walking on the beach.
Depending on what you do (and how much of it), regular activity provides a myriad of health benefits. Here are a few: improved cardiovascular health and circulation, reduced arthritis, joint and knee pain, increased bone density, stronger muscles, better balance, decrease in feelings of depression and isolation, increased cognitive function, better scores on memory tests, improved reaction time and weight maintenance. Definitely sounds like it might be worth looking into (if not starting immediately)!
Recreational groups and businesses throughout Delaware’s coastal towns serve up a dizzying array of choices for staying fit all year long – especially helpful after the “indulgence period” between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. We are talking pickleball, walking, hiking, biking, yoga, swimming, and even skiing – both Alpine and cross country. So our normal excuses of boring, limited options, and no access are blown away in the coastal wind!
To help get you started in the right direction, we will break down the health benefits of various activities and provide local resources that can help you find outlets to get involved.
PICKLEBALL: a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Senior Lewes pickleball players De Raynes and Robbin Murray, sum up why pickleball is so popular. They say it is very social. It can be competitive or recreational – one that can be enjoyed by all ages (8 – 80) making it ideal for grandparents, parents and grandchildren to enjoy together.
“Success on a recreational level can be reached very quickly,”De Raynes said. The Sports Imports web site claims that playing pickleball allows you to work on your balance, agility, reflexes, and hand-eye coordination without putting excessive strains on your body. Read more about Pickleball in our full articles:
According to The Economist, pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America and its origins may surprise you. Rules are simple, making it a great introductory sport. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) noted that, in 2018, more than three million Americans played pickleball and that number has increased each year. The USA Pickleball website provides a treasure-trove of information.
Pickleball is only one recreational option in the Delaware coastal region so there are no excuses for not staying fit.
HIKING: Another very attractive option, requires less skill and it is the focus of Delaware Easy Striders. founded by partial retiree Peter Gisler. According to the group’s Facebook page, these like-minded individuals “joined together to hike and enjoy the beauty and outdoors of southern Delaware.” The hikes are more like brisk walks and it is easy to find out how many calories one can burn via the Healthline web site.
Gisler plans two hikes per month on Sundays from October through April since he still works part time for the Delaware State Parks. Gisler knows the value of regular exercise and recreation having run a New Jersey sporting goods store in a “former life”. He strongly urges those 50 and over to join the group so they have the option of participating in the Senior Olympics. Information about the group is available on the group’s Facebook page.
Hiking/brisk walking can lower your risk of heart disease, improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, boost bone density (walking is a weight-bearing exercise), build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs and strengthen your core.
Hiking is the group’s main event, but participants also indulge in biking, tennis, kayaking, pickleball and disk golf – activities that “offer other opportunities for fresh air and exercise”. Oh, and they are known to gather after a hike for a little socializing at a local restaurant. So if you need a group to inspire your fitness, they just might be a great group to join!
Only two options of fitness down, so keep an eye out for the next part in our series: Seniors Staying Fit in Coastal DE, part 2!
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Ophrah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.