AUSTIN (KXAN) — A group of older adults in Austin are proof that there is no age cap when it comes to lifestyle. There is a community in Austin where people in their 70s, and some nearing 100 years of age, are thriving.
If you walk into Brookdale Gaines Ranch, 4409 Gaines Ranch Loop, a community home for older adults, you will find men and women gathering into what looks like an ordinary room. The ringleader of the group is Gail Peterson.
“You get to know people in a different way here than you do at dinner or, you know, other places,” Peterson said.
She rallies the troops and walks with them to their workout class.
“The biggest thing that hurts the seniors, is them falling and breaking their hip or getting a bruise that basically debilitates them, and then they can’t live their life,” Ross Tschirn said, co-owner of Gratitism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among people age 65 and older.
Peterson, 74, does not want to be part of that statistic. She said she has big plans, and it involves a lot of walking. Peterson’s goal is to strengthen her legs and work on her endurance.
“My children, I have two, Sheila and Dawn. And they kind of kind of gave me a goal. You need to get back into shape where you really can walk better, and have more stamina, and then you can go anywhere with us in the world,” Peterson said. “Kind of a good carrot, don’t you think?”
In the same room a couple of chairs away is her friend Donald Oliver.
“I have been a dancer most of my life. And I’ve taught dancing for many years. And I’m used to moving around and keeping myself limber,” Oliver said.
The 93-year-old is still active today, just as he was before he lost his vision due to macular degeneration, but he did not lose his spirit.
“There is a certain amount of elation after doing those kinds of exercises. And you feel as though you’re a little nimbler and can move a little bit better,” Oliver said.
Oliver’s coach tells KXAN the success of the 93-year-old is his consistent routine: Water, food, movement, sleep and community.
“My focus is on ankle strength, knee strength, hip strength, and then core strength so that the seniors can walk around and feel confident,” Tschirn said.
“This class gives you is confidence,” Peterson agreed. “It’s all about balance here. And if you can’t get stronger, and your legs don’t get stronger than you’re not confident about walking or doing any of those things. And falling is the number one thing that happens here.”
The co-leader of the class, Marcel Rosenberg, a personal trainer, and co-owner of Gratitism. Rosenberg noticed the group is getting stronger in the last couple of months.
“The classes have gotten so easy for them. Now I’m having to, like, throw curveballs so that I, we, can challenge them a little bit more,” Rosenberg said.
“And then when they feel like they can stretch you, and they do,” Peterson said while raising her eyebrow. “Sometimes I give him a wisecrack back. But yes, it’s good for you.”
“They always raise the eyebrow to me always. But they love it. They love a good challenge,” Rosenberg said.
“They catch on!” Tschirn said as he explained his coaching style. “I’m the guy who says just a couple more seconds, and then we’ll go for like, another minute, you know, but I know that they’re capable. And I’m the coach that’s supposed to push.”
Oliver has this advice for anyone who is not feeling the motivation to invest in exercise: “Get up!” he said as he laughed. “Don’t sit in the chair, get up and move!
A recent study found that skipping exercise in favor of sitting can worsen brain function. The study went on to show that even small changes in how much physical activity a person gets each day can affect cognitive abilities.