Eighty-seven year old Mary Dixon works out six times a week; So can you

October 20, 2015

HANCOCK, Mich. – People of all ages, shapes and sizes walk through the doors of the UP Health System – Portage Fitness Center on a daily basis. One such individual stands out from the crowd and is an inspiration for everybody.

Eighty-seven year old Mary Dixon works out six times a week at the Fitness Center.

“I’m in the FUNctional Fitness class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” Mary said. “Other days I do 30 minutes on the treadmill and alternate the leg machine one day and the arm machine the other.

“Working out as much as I do keeps me limber. I’ve had back problems in the past that I don’t have anymore. My energy level is also very good, and I think I enjoy the social benefit the most. There are some fun faces that you see here every morning.”

The CDC recommends a mix of both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week for adults over the age of 65.

Dr. Katriina Hopper, a geriatric and internal medicine provider at UP Health System – Portage, weighed in on the topic,

“Exercise is very important for older adults, because it helps reduce the risk of disability at the end of life. It’s important to keep your muscles strong so that you can do those activities that are important for day-to-day life.

“Exercise also helps people who have chronic diseases like COPD, heart failure, and Type 2 diabetes so that they can live with a greater quality of life. Regular exercise can also prevent falls, and falls can be catastrophic for an older person.”

Along with all of the equipment you would need to work out on your own, the UP Health System – Portage Fitness Center offers a wide variety of fitness classes on a daily basis. FUNctional Fitness is a socially interactive class designed to maintain and improve a daily active lifestyle. The class is open to all activity levels with beginners encouraged to attend.

“I started at the Fitness Center 11 or 12 years ago when it was located at Michigan Tech,” added Mary. “My husband was getting physical therapy for his neck, and I was just sitting there doing nothing. I was pretty bored so I got a punch card, and he joined too.

“I would recommend the Fitness Center because it’s such a pleasant place to come. The machines are always in good shape, it’s clean, the location is ideal, and the rates are very reasonable. The staff is always so friendly and helpful. They are encouraging and knowledgeable.”

The Fitness Center recently began participating in the SilverSneakers Program; an innovative health, exercise and wellness program helping older adults live healthy, active lifestyles.

Regular participation in exercise programs like SilverSneakers can help individuals build muscular strength, improve joint mobility, and increase cardiovascular endurance, leading to improved healthy and great independence—just like Mary.

“If you’re older the age of 50, it’s important to talk to your doctor about what kinds of exercise are right for you,” added Dr. Hopper.

Many Medicare health plans, Medicare Supplement carriers or group retiree plans may include SilverSneakers as part of their benefit packages. Visit silversneakers.com or call 1-888-423-4682 to verify eligibility. Individuals can also call the Fitness Center at 906-483-1149 for more information.