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 Massachusetts and Community-based Resources
 Other Local Resources
 National Resources
 Park Services

Studies show that exercise is safe for all age groups and that older adults actually hurt their health by not exercising. An inactive lifestyle can cause older people to lose ground in four areas that are important for staying healthy and independent: strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. Research suggests that exercise and physical activity can help older people maintain or even partly restore function in these four areas.

For many elders, the prospect of socializing can help overcome resistance to physical activities, and many programs offer opportunities to socialize as well as exercise. Your physician may know of programs offered at local hospitals. Likewise, local churches and community centers may offer programs specifically designed for less mobile elders.

Councils on Aging (COA) provide activities and fitness programs. Programs vary from one COA to the next; contact the Director of your local COA for details (see, Section 8, Directory of MA Gateway Organizations.

Massachusetts Governor's Committee on Fitness and Sports works in collaboration with state government and the Commonwealth,s leading health experts, professional and collegiate sports teams and marketing professionals to create awareness for the vital role that sports and fitness play in the health and well being of its citizens. The Committee promotes programs through the "Every Body Move" public awareness campaign and grant program. Their web site links to a variety of fitness resources, MA Gov Fitness > Resources > Links to other Sites.

Massachusetts Office of Healthy Aging (OHA) focuses on health promotion in a variety of areas including physical fitness, nutrition, injury prevention, and chronic disease management. OHA features a directory of senior walking clubs across Massachusetts called the "Keep Moving Program".

YMCAs design Active Older Adult programs to meet the needs of older members, provide volunteer opportunities for senior citizens, and offer intergenerational programs. There are many local branches. To find a YMCA near you, go to: YMCA, or call 1-800-872-9622 (toll-free) or the Boston branch will provide information for locations around the state: 617-536-7809.

Health Clubs Local gyms often offer aerobics classes for seniors, as well as tai chi, yoga, and other options that might be appropriate and fun for elders who are mobile. Look in your phone directory under "Health clubs and gymnasiums" or "Exercise and Physical Fitness" for facilities near you. Unsupervised exercise can do more harm than good at any age it is important to have your doctor,s recommendation before starting a new exercise routine. When you talk to local gyms and health clubs, ask:

 What special programs are offered for seniors;

 What level of mobility is required; and

 If the program is supervised by a licensed professional.

Faith-based Organizations Contact your local organizations to see if they offer fitness programs. For example, Striar Jewish Community Center in Stoughton offers specialized fitness and aquatics classes for older adults. Striar Jewish Community Center. For more information, call 781-341-2016, ext 288.

Medical Centers Another possible source for fitness programs. For example, Senior Class is a free health and wellness educational resource for men and women ages 55 and over, available at Bay State Medical Center in Springfield 413-794-5200, Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield 413-773-2433, and Mary Lane Hospital in Ware 413-967-2200. Bay State Medical Center > Other Programs and Services > Senior Class.

Municipal Parks and Recreation Departments Most towns have their own parks and fitness programs, including "parcours" facilities, a sequence of exercise stations next to trails and jogging tracks. (For more information on state and national park services, see Park Services section below.)

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) website offers a variety of free information on health, travel, games and entertainment including online puzzles and games: The American Association of Retired Persons.

Growing Stronger is a strength training program developed by Tufts University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The website offers a variety of information and explains the benefits of strength training, from maintaining bone integrity and improving balance, to helping to reduce symptoms of chronic diseases such as arthritis. This site also has a free PDF download of the 112 page book, Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults. The book can also be purchased in hard copy for $9.95. Visit Tufts University-Nutrition or phone 973-579-3760. The program was developed by the John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the Freidman School of Tufts University.

NIH SeniorHealth (NIH SeniorHealth) is a senior-friendly website from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine. This site features information on popular health topics, and it has both a large type and a "talking" feature that reads text aloud.

National Institute on Aging You can order NIA publications and other materials at National Institute on Aging . Most are free. NIA offers a 48 minute exercise video for seven dollars ($7.00). Call 1-800-222-2225 to order.

Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine, lists fitness publications at National Library of Medicine (NIH) > Exercise for Seniors.

Rails to Trails Conservancy converts abandoned railroad track into walking, biking and hiking trails. They work at the federal, state and local level to make trails an essential component of the emerging smart growth and livable communities movement. There are 27 trails in Massachusetts. To find a trail near your community, or in another part of Massachusetts, go to Rails to Trails Conservancy > Find a trail > Rail Link.com > state or region > scroll down to "Massachusetts."

The Delta Society is a national, nonprofit organization whose mission is improving human health through service and therapy animals. Its program "Pet Partners" brings volunteers and their pets to nursing homes, hospitals, and schools. The Society website has information and resources about the human-animal-health connection: The Delta Society

Massachusetts has a number of scenic and historical attractions that offer activities for various interests and levels of mobility.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) oversees the Division of State Parks and Recreation, and its "Universal Access Program" is dedicated to providing outdoor recreation opportunities in Massachusetts State Parks for visitors of all abilities, including access to beaches, pools, fishing, boating, camping, cycling, trails, scenic viewing and picnicking. The DCR website contains detailed information about the many sites and activities. See The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. For more details regarding Universal Access programs, go to Mass.Gov-Universial Access, or contact the Universal Access Program office, P.O. Box 484, Amherst, MA 01004. Phone: 413-545-5353; 413-577-2200 TTY.

The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) also maintains a number of historic sites, recreations areas, and parks in Massachusetts. Visit the website The U.S. National Park Service for a detailed list of areas in the state, or call 617-223-5200 for general information.

To learn about the facilities, interpretive program offerings, and conditions at each site, call ahead before your visit. Phone numbers are available for each park or site on the websites, or in your local telephone directory under: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Division of State Parks and Recreation; or United States Government, Interior Dept., National Park Service (NPS).

A sampling of attractions:

  Blue Hills Reservation (DCR), in Milton, offers an Adult Walking Club, call 617-698-1802.

 Boston Harbor Islands (DCR) has boat cruises, tours, and picnic spots, call 617-727-5290 or 617-223-8666.

 Minute Man National Historic Park (NPS), in Concord, offers a wide range of reenactments and guided tours, call 978-369-6993.

 Walden Pond State Reservation (DCR), in Concord, has guided walks, call 978-369-3254.

 Cape Cod National Seashore (NPS) has ranger-guided activities and creative presentations, call 508-349-3785.

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