Senior Circles: Find fun and fitness at Active Aging Week functions

How do you plan to celebrate Active Aging Week 2012, Sept. 23-29?

Are you going to start taking a new fitness class, join a bowling team, play a game of ping-pong, take a walk, or take a tap-dancing class?


Many of these activities are available to you at your nearest Howard County senior center, so get moving and have some fun. But, don't just do the activity for Active Aging Week. Keep it up throughout the year.

The International Council on Active Aging holds this annual health promotion week every year during the last week in September. This year's theme is "Many journeys, many destinations," which implies to me that seniors have a lot to do and many places to go.


This special week will be celebrated at senior centers and retirement communities, which will provide opportunities for older adults to choose an active lifestyle. These activities might include health talks on diabetes, arthritis and depression; nutrition presentations; brain-fitness exercises; even concerts and dancing and sometimes free refreshments and giveaways. The ICAA provides simple guidelines for local organizers of Active Aging Week events: Activities should be fun and in a no-pressure atmosphere, educational, and free to participants, so that cost is not a barrier to attendance.

During Active Aging Week, the Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, in Columbia, is offering free exercise classes for new students. You can sample Sittercize, Sept. 25, 3 to 4 p.m., in the exercise room; qi gong, Sept. 27, 10 to 11 a.m., in Great Room 2; beginner Soul line dancing, 2:45 to 4 p.m., in the exercise room; chair Yoga, Sept. 28, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., in Great Room 2; and Zumba, Sept. 28, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., in Great Room 2. To reserve a spot, sign up in the lobby or call 410-313-7213.

Just as an aside, if you aren't familiar with qi gong, and I wasn't, qi gong, pronounced "chee gung," means energy exercise. It combines meditation and slow, beautiful movements to relax the body and calm the mind. There is standing and seated mediation; gentle movements that balance and promote the flow of qi in the body; and breathing and self massage techniques to clear the mind and relax the body.

Have you ever considered tap dancing? Bain's newsletter reports that Jeanne Stevens has taught the Silver Bells tap dancing class at Bain Center for 26 years. She celebrated her 90th birthday in August and believes that it is never too late to learn something new. She works one on one with beginners. Join her on Tuesdays from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Bain.

While on the subject of tap dancing, you can also learn to tap dance, with Jackie Dunphy of the Golden Girls, at the Ellicott City Senior Center, 9401 Frederick Road, in Ellicott City. The Tapping with Jackie class is for all levels of dancers, both men and women, and is a form of aerobic exercise. There is a recital at the end of the year.

The Ellicott City Senior Center also has a wide variety of exercise classes, many of which are already filled. Check with the center at 410-313-1400 to find out which ones are still open.

At Glenwood 50+, at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center, you can join the staff for different walks through the park, each with a different length and level of difficulty on Monday, Sept. 24, at 10 a.m. Sign up in the binder at the front desk of the center at 2400 Route 97, in Cooksville.

Enjoy some brainteasers and illusions, while drinking a free fruit smoothie in the lobby on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 9 a.m. Glenwood also has an ongoing health, wellness and fitness program that includes gentle yoga for beginners, hatha yoga, Sittercize, line dancing, Age Well Sit & Fit, qi gong and meditation.


The North Laurel 50+ Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, in Laurel, offers a senior fitness pass for those over age 50 and a 50+ member through Howard County Recreation & Parks. Annual membership is only $25, if you are a Howard County resident. Senior Fitness membership times are: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.; Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 1 to 3 p.m.; and Monday and Wednesday, 3 to 5 p.m.

The North Laurel Community Center, where the North Laurel 50+ Center is housed, also offers center membership and Fit4U Fitness packages for all ages. Packages for times other than Senior Fitness times are available from Recreation and Parks.

North Laurel 50+ ongoing programs include a walking club, line dance drop-in, blood pressure screenings and brain health assessments. The walking club meets Monday through Friday at 8 a.m. for a brisk walk around an indoor track (12 laps equals one mile). Cards are available at the front desk to record your distance and time.

From Sept. 24 to 27, the East Columbia 50+ Center, 6600 Cradlerock Way, in Columbia, has sessions of tai chi, yoga, soul line dancing, chair yoga, belly dancing; strength training, Pilates and urban line dancing. The center hours are Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 410-313-7680 for fitness schedules.

The Elkridge Senior Center, 6540 Washington Blvd., in Elkridge, has a walking club. You can start your day off right and join the walkers on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 to 9 a.m. They also have relaxing yoga free on Tuesday and Friday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

The Active Aging Week schedule at Longwood Senior Center, 6150 Foreland Garth, in Columbia, includes: Sept. 24, 1 p.m., line dancing; Sept. 25, 26, 27 and 28, 9 a.m., Chinese free exercise and 1 p.m., ping pong; Sept. 26, 10 a.m., laughing yoga; and Sept. 27, 1 p.m., ping pong. Center hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 410-313-7217.


During September, senior centers are also celebrating National Senior Center Month, with the theme, "It Happens at My Senior Center. My Life. My Time. My Way."

In the Bain Center September newsletter announcement of National Senior Center Month, one of the members of the center gave testimony to what happens at her senior center. Herta Rauscher, 87, originally from Germany, has been a member of the Bain Center for 20 years. She enjoys the Better Health & Wellness Exercise Program provided by Howard Community College, one of the center's partners. Rauscher said in the newsletter that she loves attending the class and that it keeps hfer going and looking fit.

The Bain Center will mark the close of this special month with an Evening of Live Music, sponsored by Zeta Alpha Sigma Chapter, Friday, Sept. 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. Dr. Phil Butts and the Sunset Band will play pop, R&B and contemporary jazz. Hors d'oeuvres and other refreshments will be served. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door.

Are you moving yet?