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Gardening, Outdoor Fun Keep Seniors Healthy, Fit

July 12, 2013
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Warm temperatures signal the return of fresh air wafting through screened windows, porch furniture, gardening and backyard fun. At Elmhurst, The House of Friendship, in Wheeling, residents have embraced the return of good weather with activities that provide fresh-air exercise and fun.

Members of the senior living residence's garden club took a trip to an area lawn and garden center to purchase dozens of flowering plants. Amy Bishop, assistant program director and garden club mentor, said Elmhurst's green-thumb gardeners selected the flowers to be planted in the standing garden that surrounds a patio located adjacent to the family room.

"Our club members tend their garden regularly, keeping weeds at bay and pinching back blooms," Bishop said, adding, "They take great pride in the garden and not only enjoy watching it bloom, but also in getting the benefit of outdoor exercise at the same time."

Article Photos

Elmhurst garden club participants, Mary Sacco, left, and Mary Stanek, tend the standing garden with Amy Bishop, assistant program director, at the Wheeling retirement residence.
Photo provided

Elmhurst's campus boasts two patio gardens plus lush landscaping that features dozens of blooming red rose bushes and other flowering plants throughout the spring and summer seasons.

Meanwhile, the backyard at Elmhurst was the site of a mini-Olympics competition as residents participated in the 20th National Senior Health and Fitness Day on May 29. Patricia Henze, national program manager, said the goals for Senior Day are "to make exercise fun, to increase awareness of the benefits of a regular exercise program for older adults, and to encourage all older adults to take advantage of the many health and fitness programs offered in their communities."

Residents competed in teams for a rousing game of bean bag toss that engages upper body muscles. Other residents participated in ring toss competition. Olympic-style medals were awarded to all participants and spectators, and cool ice cream treats topped off the outdoor fun.

"We encourage our residents to stay healthy and active through our twice-weekly exercise classes, walking at Wheeling Jesuit University and events such as the mini-Olympics," said Jamie Crow, executive director, who added, "No matter what your age, staying physically active at whatever level is important to overall mental and physical fitness and a happy life."

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