Header image: Is physical activity the secret to longevity & independence?

Longevity is complicated, but there’s something to the idea of physical activity helping us to live a longer, healthier life, according to Swedish physician, professor at Gothenburg University and researcher Bertil Marklun.

While writing The Nordic Guide to Living 10 Years Longer, Marklun discovered that lifestyle accounts for as much as 75 percent of how long someone will live, with genes determining only 25 percent. Not only that, but exercise tops his list of most important lifestyle factors.

Exercise is proven to add years of extra life and years without impairment in activities of daily living in older adults, too. We see the power of how life-changing it is every single day.

Get Up & Move: Technology to Break the Sedentary Cycle

We’re not surprised, since physical is just one of four critical dimensions of successful aging touted in the Masterpiece Living® model we proudly follow at our retirement communities. It’s an evidence-based program followed by communities with a strong desire to redefine the standard for active senior living through health and wellness. The other three dimensions include social, spiritual and intellectual pursuits. All are equally important in helping older adults remain active and independent.

According to Darcy Andelin, lifestyle and fitness coordinator at La Loma Village, Sun Health’s Masterpiece Living retirement community in Litchfield Park, Arizona, “I read a Wall Street Journal article recently that stated less than three percent of seniors work out. Over 42 percent of La Loma Village residents participate in our fitness activities, so we must be doing something right!” 

Residents of the retirement community may not want to become bodybuilders, but they do want to come back every day stronger in their physical bodies, says Andelin.

Programs are designed to meet the specific needs of older bodies in the areas of endurance, balance, strength, flexibility, range of motion and functional fitness.

Functional fitness strengthens muscles and stability for common, everyday tasks needed to remain independent.

“We see the power of exercise change lives every day at La Loma Village. It’s incredibly exciting.”

Exercise regimens aren’t the same at every independent living community, whether it’s Masterpiece Living or not… although Masterpiece Living communities tend to have a stronger focus on a health and wellness lifestyle. The culture of the organization and people bring it to life.

A culture passionate about their residents’ needs and limitations don’t offer a static schedule of classes, but a vibrant effort customized to their participants and well-trained staff that rival that of any gym or physical therapy center.  

Andelin adds, “Bosu balls might be great for those under fifty and a fun new thing to try, but brittle ligaments of older adults make them less appropriate as a fitness tool for seniors. It’s important to design programs that are beneficial, but also mindful of safety while minimizing risk of injury.”

Because Sun Health Senior Living has three retirement communities, fitness staff gets together monthly to coordinate efforts, talk about what’s working and what is not, and share best practices. “It’s the culture that makes the difference. It defines the fitness.”

Many who are considering independent living retirement communities take a close look at the residence they’ll be residing in, but forget to take a close look at the actual lifestyle of the community. Because it has tremendous impact on quality of life for residents, and even their longevity, evaluating lifestyle and the available fitness resources shouldn’t be overlooked.

Masterpiece Living communities are an excellent place to begin. It guarantees these are top-of-mind for the community.

This is the fourth installment in our series on Masterpiece Living. Start with part one here.

Sun Health Senior Living is proud to offer three Masterpiece Living Communities in Arizona: Grandview Terrace in Sun City West, La Loma Village in Litchfield Park and The Colonnade in Sun City Grand (Surprise).

If you’re interested in learning more about the difference a Masterpiece Living community can make when it comes to successful aging, contact Corporate Director of Sales Jackie Lusson at 623-236-3767 to schedule your tour.

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