Tips for fighting age and disease with exercise

HOUSTON – Instructor Cynthia Portugal said the goal of her Silver Sneakers class at the YMCA on Stella Link is to improve strength, flexibility and balance. 

“These exercises do help people fight off chronic illnesses and fight off aging and just continue a really good quality of life for as long as we can, because our bodies slowly deteriorate as it gets older but the strength training helps to keep you strong,” Portugal said.

It helps to prevent conditions like stroke and heart disease. Laura Ferro said she comes to help with arthritis but she's staying with it because of concerns about developing Alzheimer’s disease.

“My mother died of Alzheimer’s two years ago and so that really concerns me because she was a superwoman, wonder woman, to see her the way she was the last couple of years it was pretty awful,” Ferro said. “Everything I read about (Alzheimer’s) is exercise, exercise. Don't stop. Just keep going.”

Everyone in SilverSneakers has a different motivation for attending.

For Mary Ann Lewis, she said it helps her feel better and at 81 years old, with an autoimmune disorder, she said that's tremendous.

“The stands and the squats, they don't hurt my knees,” Lewis said. “I don’t know why I didn’t look into it sooner.”

It's possible for anyone to try, Portugal said. With modified movements and taking your time to ease into it, it's never too late.

“The point is you just need to start somewhere,” Portugal said. She recommends starting with just 20 minutes a day.

Start small and build your way up to 150 minutes of cardio per week and two days with resistance or weight training.