Margaret Saam practises tai chi at the Bowen Park Activity Centre last week. The City of Nanaimo’s Parks

Margaret Saam practises tai chi at the Bowen Park Activity Centre last week. The City of Nanaimo’s Parks

ACTIVE LIFE: Diverse programs keep seniors active

NANAIMO – You don't get older, you get better, goes the old saying. Classes, workshops offer new skills and social connections.

You don’t get older, you get better, goes the old saying, and Nanaimoites aged 60-plus can do that by partaking in programs through the City of Nanaimo.

Offerings through Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors’ membership are diverse and participants can take part in anything from arts and crafts, games, dance, fitness, languages, music, special interest and sports, says Michele Duerksen, a seniors recreation coordinator for the City of Nanaimo’s Parks, Recreation and Environment department.

Included in those categories are pottery, bridge, tai chi, ukulele, lawn bowling and volleyball.

Duerksen points to one of the newer classes, country line dancing at Departure Bay Activity Centre, as being particularly popular.

Duerksen says 1,500 members particpate per year. Membership is $41 annually and a majority of programs are free, although a fee is sometimes charged if an instructor is required.

Participants get active, whether by exercising self or mind, and there is a social component as well.

“It’s huge for making connections, especially if someone has lost their spouse or is new to town. That is one of the main keys in keeping folks active for life,” said Duerksen. “If you have somewhere to go, you have a friend calling you up, that’s exactly why you’re engaged here.”

Maureen Evans practises tai chi at Bowen Park Activity Centre, and preaches its virtues.

“The benefits for me is that you exercise every muscle, you strengthen everything and it helps with balance and back aches, everything that you need to keep healthy,” said Evans.

She says her class does more than just tai chi, however.

“Socially, we have a wonderful group and we do things together,” said Evans. “One of our members has a lovely home and she invites us out for Halloween and for Christmas and for Easter and we have a great time.”

Ron Levesque, a volunteer who helps with dancing, references a New England Journal of Medicine study as a reason to remain active – it found dancing reduces risk of senility by 76 per cent.

“I think the reason is you’re using your body, but you also have to use your mind to remember the steps … it’s a great form of exercise and it has the added benefit of making you think about what you’re going to do,” said Levesque.

For more information, please go to www.nanaimoharbourcityseniors.com or call Duerksen at 250-755-7524.