Top-Ranked Amenities: Fitness Centers and Walking Trails
By Nancy Gross
Embracing an active lifestyle has never been easier for retirees who choose to live in communities with fitness centers and walking trails. From North Carolina to Florida, from Colorado to Arizona, communities that attract the most retirees boast recreational activities that go well beyond the ever-popular golf and tennis.
The reason for this is clear: regular exercise—with walking being one of the most beneficial and simple forms of exercise—results in increased muscle strength, flexibility, and balance. Regular exercise is the key to maintaining heart health, brain power, and agility.
But let’s not forget about the fabulous social benefits of working out at a community’s fitness center! It’s easy to make new friends when you’re involved in Zumba and yoga classes, or lifting weights and using a treadmill.
We’ve all experienced procrastination when it comes to driving to a fitness facility to workout. Communities that offer onsite fitness and wellness centers make it convenient and fun to partake in a multitude of healthy, physical activities just outside your doorstep.
State-of-the-Art Fitness Centers
What exactly comprises a state-of-the-art fitness center? Increasingly, the most appealing resort and retirement communities are offering both cardio and strength equipment in their fitness facilities. Cardio equipment includes treadmills, elliptical machines, recumbent and upright bikes, Stairmasters, and rowing machines.
Strength equipment may include free weights, dumbbells, flat bench press, leg sleds, flat benches, Smith Machines, and TRX suspension equipment. Some communities also offer personal trainers who will work with you to design a specific program that meets your unique needs and goals.
Don’t be intimidated if some of this equipment is new to you. Community fitness centers are a great place to safely try new equipment and machines.
A New Twist on Exercise Classes
Communities that include fitness and wellness centers provide residents with enjoyable group exercise classes that can reap a variety of health benefits.
For example, yoga classes have become common and appeal to many retirees. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root “yuj,” which means “to join” the spiritual and physical body together. Yoga energizes our bodies and calms our minds.
Benefits of Yoga:
- Increased flexibility
- Increased muscle strength and tone
- Cardio and circulatory health, lowered blood pressure
T’ai Chi is often described as “meditation in motion.” It’s a graceful form of exercise that involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner accompanied by deep breathing. There’s growing evidence that this mind-body practice helps prevent many health problems.
Benefits of T’ai Chi:
- Increased muscle strength and flexibility
- Increased balance
- Stress reduction
Popular Pilates emphasizes proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment, and concentration on smooth, flowing movements.
Benefits of Pilates:
- Develops flat abdominals and a strong back
- Increases lean muscles and flexibility
- Improves circulation
Millions have embraced Zumba, the Latin-inspired fitness class that provides an effective total body workout with an upbeat, fun fusion of dance moves.
Benefits of Zumba:
- Body toning
- Weight loss
- Improved coordination
Aerobic activity, such as walking, swimming, and bicycling, makes you sweat, causes you to breathe harder, and gets your heart beating faster.
Benefits of Aerobics:
- Improves circulation and maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood
- Increases energy
- Helps reduce the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes
Water aerobics is considered a low-intensity workout, which makes it appealing to many retirees. Exercising in water makes you feel about 90% lighter, so your body does not experience that same impact that these moves cause on land. There are a variety of water aerobic formats including step, Zumba, kickboxing, T’ai Chi, and yoga.
Walking Your Way to Excellent Health
Perhaps the easiest, most inexpensive exercise is walking. That’s why exceptional communities feature sidewalks and walking trails. Miles of trails surrounded by nature’s beauty make it convenient and inviting to walk out your front door and take a walk, jog, or bike ride. It’s never too late to begin exercising with a brisk daily walk and accrue the many health benefits of this rejuvenating activity.
Along with fitness centers and walking trails, more and more communities are offering an array of athletic activities: golf, tennis, bocce ball, pickle ball, volleyball, squash, racquetball, softball, basketball, lap pools, and even polo fields.
After an exhilarating workout or sports game, residents of world-class communities have the opportunity to reward themselves with a soothing massage, often including options such as Swedish, deep tissue, or Shiatsu massage. Others may prefer to relax their muscles in a hot tub or sauna.
As you explore various resort and retirement communities, be sure to learn about the specific fitness and wellness programs offered. These amenities are highly desirable and continue to expand in the most sought-after communities.
You’ll want to maintain a high level of physical health when you begin your active, outdoor lifestyle at the extraordinary community of your choice!