Seniors see importance in staying active: use it or lose it.

Lindy Guild, 85, and Barbara Minard, 90, continue to keep up their active lifestyles

KELSEY POWER PHOTO Lindy Guild makes her way out of the Best Western’s pool February 19 after her Elderfit class.

KELSEY POWER PHOTO
Lindy Guild makes her way out of the Best Western’s pool February 19 after her Elderfit class.

Lindy Guild has always been active, but Barbara Minard has not. Both women achieved energetic lifestyles and have continued to keep them up as they age.

“I think they’re an inspiration for all of us for having that sort of attitude towards physical activity, because they just keep on going. They’re like Energizer bunnies,” said Janice Rand, the program coordinator at the District of Lunenburg recreation department.

“They don’t say I’m too old for this. I’m sure they have to modify some things that they do, but they keep active, and I think they’re reaping the benefits of it.”

Ms Guild, who turns 86 at the end of April, attends Elderfit, a water exercise program designed for seniors and the physically compromised, at least twice a week and sometimes more if she substitute teaches the class at the Oak Island pool.

“I’ve always liked the water and the resistance that it gives you, the buoyancy, so if you’ve got wobbly unpleasant joints, which I certainly did have after working at the office job I had, the water is so benign it really allows you to do stuff you can’t do on land,” said Ms Guild, who worked as a travel manager in Bridgewater for 20 years.

She also was an aircraft mechanic in the Women’s Royal Naval Service in England, a ship stewardess on freighters in the merchant navy, an air stewardess and an assistant to a photo editor for a magazine in Toronto. In her travels she always found someplace to swim and took up Elderfit when she retired at 70.

“Look at the girls we have in here that really can hardly walk but they’re wonderful in the water. It’s good for all ages, all sizes, anybody who can’t swim, because it’s all done in the shallow end, but they could use a noodle if they wanted. It’s just a very benign environment, and I personally like it a lot. It really does a lot for me,” said Ms Guild, who mentioned people who had with polio, MS, knee and hip replacements, open heart surgery and pacemakers have all been able to attend the program.

“As long as they can get into the pool and get themselves out and dressed, that’s fine.”

Normally, 15 to 20 people attend this class.

Ms Guild describes herself as a guinea pig for the program that started in 1998. Classes are offered at the Atlantica Hotel and Marina Oak Island, the Best Western Plus Bridgewater Hotel and Convention Centre, and the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre.

She also attends a chair yoga class in Mahone Bay, which is the same as a regular yoga session but uses a chair for support.

“I think it’s very important to keep active because then my relatives know they won’t have to look after me in my old age, the health-care system knows I’m not going to be bothering them very much in my old age and just generally it’s better for me,” said Ms Guild.

“I would hate it if I were confined to a room because I wasn’t able to move around because I hadn’t looked after myself.”

She’s been trying to attend a weight class with her former Nice and Easy class coach but has been kept from the Wednesday activity due to winter storms. On these days, along with Saturdays and Sundays she keeps active with two 10-minute sessions on her treadmill at home. She also recommends tai chi, which no longer fits into her busy schedule.

“Most seniors want to exercise in the morning. They don’t want to exercise in the afternoon and at night. They want to do it in the morning when they’re fresh and bright, and there’s a limited number of exercises that you can get in.”

She thinks she is similar to her mother.

“She was 106 when she died two years ago and she was active until she was 100, still knitting and gardening, cooking and cleaning,” said Ms Guild.

“She didn’t have a thing wrong with her and when she died she was the only one in the nursing home that wasn’t taking any medication at all. Not a pill.”

Similarly, Ms Minard, a 90-year-old resident of Mahone Bay, has never really been sick, aside from having open heart surgery five years ago.

Ms Minard keeps active with the Mahone Bay older adult fitness class twice a week.

She does 20 minutes of aerobics, followed by working with balls and weights for the same amount of time and a cool-down to end these hour-long classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. They are attended by around 20 people.

“I like everything about it. I feel good when it’s finished,” she said.

She’s also kept active by her duck toller Basil, who is turning 14 next month. She walks him twice a day for half an hour.

“It’s good having a dog. You have to get out and walk them. He’s also good company,” said Ms Minard, who doesn’t think she would be as motivated to get out without her pet.

“It keeps me feeling good, good physically, and I think that helps mentally too,” she said.

“A lot of seniors can’t walk as far as I do.”

But she wasn’t always interested in keeping up an active lifestyle.

“Growing up I was very fat. I wasn’t able to do anything,” said Ms Minard. “When I got in my 20s I decided to do something about it. My sister and I did that together. We went on a diet, and I haven’t gained it back. That’s when I really started trying to do exercises and make myself feel better, because when I didn’t do exercises I didn’t feel good.”

She also retired at 70, but Ms Minard hasn’t completely given up her job. Once a member of the clergy, Ms Minard still leads Bible studies at the Anglican Church and for seniors in the Mahone Nursing Home.

“I try to give them a more positive outlook on life,” she said, attributing this attitude, her active lifestyle and her lack of worry to her health, happiness and age.

Both women wish more seniors on the South Shore took advantage of the various programs aimed at people their age.

“It’s just people think they can’t do it,” Ms Minard said.

“I was speaking to a friend about that, and she said, ‘Oh, I’m too old for that,’ and she’s not as old as I am.”

Ms Rand is hoping these two individuals inspire others to get active.

“Any activity at any age you have to start gradually and listen to your own body. People need to be encouraged not to write off physical activity because of age,” she said.

But Ms Guild thinks more could be done.

“I don’t think seniors are targeted enough. The only advertising that is ever done is in the recreation guide or word of mouth,” said Ms Guild.

“This body is the only one you’ve got, so you have to look after it… although I know some people can’t because of their circumstances or the cards that have been dealt them. There are an awful lot of people that could do more for themselves, but they don’t for whatever reason, so I’m trying to persuade people that you can get out there.”

As originally published in LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin

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