Last updated: March 28, 2018, at 10:59 a.m. PT
Originally published: April 20, 2017, at 2:49 p.m. PT
We live our healthiest lives when we have access to nutritious food, supportive spaces, and physical activities. Evidence-based health interventions like our chronic disease prevention programs, like the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, help build a healthier community and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be the best version of themselves.
Today Y member Elizabeth is fully enjoying life, connecting with her community, and staying active with weekly fitness classes. But just a few years ago, she was plagued by multiple health challenges that made even routine activities difficult.
“I couldn’t even walk into more than one store when shopping, I had planter fasciitis so bad. I’d been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, hypertension, and I was obese,” she explains.
Half of all seniors suffer from some form of chronic disease, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Thanks to donor supported programs like Enhance®Fitness, older adults are enabled to become more active, energized, and empowered to live independently. Trying the class on the recommendation of Y staff, within two weeks Elizabeth’s blood pressure dropped twenty points, she was able to go off medication, and she started losing weight.
Changes in her overall fitness didn’t just initiate dramatic results for Elizabeth, but for her husband as well. His kidney disease had progressed to a point where he needed a transplant and thanks to Elizabeth’s improved health, they were eligible to participate in a six-person transplant exchange.
“That was huge. I had been my husband’s home patient care person for eight months while he was on home dialysis,” shares Elizabeth.
The support they received after the surgery from staff and other class members has been invaluable.
“Our class is so big and diverse that no matter what I go through in life there is someone who has experienced it. That is a huge emotional support.”
Elizabeth has made Enhance®Fitness a regular part of her routine because she finds it different from other exercise classes. Balance issues and arthritis are things she still copes with and Enhance®Fitness helps with both, in a fun and creative format. She enjoys the class so much she often recommends it to friends and neighbors, especially if they’re recovering from recent surgery or muscle pain.
“I say this is the place you need to be because you are going to be supported physically, but also emotionally and socially because it’s such a wonderful group.”
For Elizabeth, the Y is more than just a gym and that’s motivation for her to be involved beyond exercise. She has deepened her connection to her community by participating in philanthropy activities like the annual Backpack Drive.
“I like that the Y is non-profit and community focused,” she said. “It’s inclusive of all people, we have a very diverse community and that diversity is reflected here at the Y. It’s a real hub for everyone.”