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Active Aging at O’Connor Woods of Stockton

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Tucked among century-old oak trees, walking trails and beautiful gardens is one of Stockton’s best-kept secrets, one that separates this 34-acre retirement community from the others. O’Connor Woods Senior Residential Community was founded as a haven for Central Valley seniors, but it’s also home to the innovative and unique Wellness Connection Fitness Club.

“We make it our goal to give every resident and community member who is age 60 and older the encouragement and motivation needed to develop a healthy lifestyle,” noted Nanci Shaddy, O’Connor Woods Director of Fitness and Wellness. “The Wellness Connection is dedicated to changing and improving lives with wellness programs and guidance to make each individual’s life purposeful and healthy. It’s never too late to start connecting to a healthier you, and we encourage our members to keep their minds and bodies in motion as they age.”

It’s Important to Keep Moving
As people surpass the half-century mark, their natural instinct is to want to slow down and rest, but it’s also a well-known fact that bodies in motion stay in motion. Studies have shown that exercise and intellectual stimulation can reduce depression and even delay or prevent Alzheimer’s. “We also know that sometimes our seniors want to stay active, but are just not sure where to begin or how to go about that,” Nanci added. “That’s why the Wellness Connection Fitness Club is so beneficial for adults 60+ who want to maintain health and wellness via exercise programs and activities that are tailored to their needs and abilities.”

The Wellness Connection Fitness Club, located on the O’Connor Woods grounds, is open to residents and the community, and it’s dedicated to changing and improving lives by promoting health in a compassionate, fun and dynamic setting. Memberships for nonresidents start at $50 a month for individuals and $90 a month for couples.

“Our indoor pool aquatic program offers high-intensity classes, but also low-impact aquatic options for those struggling with arthritis,” Nanci confirmed. “The movements in this class are specifically designed for those looking to increase range of motion, reduce pain and stiffness and strengthen joints. Our group exercise classes are also hugely popular with our members and they focus on a wide range of topics from yoga to toning and strengthening sessions.”

A unique program that this robust fitness club has experienced great success with is FallProof™ Balance and Mobility Training Program. As the Wellness Club director and a FallProof specialist, Nanci is trained to assess internal and external risk factors associated with falls. “We feel this option is a tremendous asset to the aging population in our community and is the only one of its kind in Central Valley. I have enjoyed instructing this program for the last eight years and I have seen many wonderful outcomes.”

Focus on Active Aging Week
With a message of “stay healthy, active and engaged,” O’Connor Woods is also gearing up for a special event in late September. Active Aging Week is a national celebration that takes place annually, and The Wellness Connection Fitness Club is celebrating their seventh year as a host site. “We’d love to invite everyone to join us September 25 through 29, and we are excited to have Robert Winningham, PhD, here as a guest speaker to present Train Your Brain,” Nanci revealed. “During the week, attendees can access free fitness classes and community walks. We’ve also partnered with Lincoln Center to facilitate a self-paced community walking event called A Step in the Right Direction. This week-long campaign wholeheartedly celebrates the positivity of aging today. It showcases the capabilities of older adults as fully participating members of society and spotlights the role models that lead the way.”

Active Aging Week challenges society’s diminished expectations of aging by showing that, regardless of age or health conditions, adults over 50 can live as fully as possible in all areas of life. The objective of the annual health-promotion event is to give as many older adults as possible the means to experience wellness activities and exercise in a safe, supportive environment. It also promotes the benefits of healthier, more active lifestyles across the life span.

Healthy Now and In the Future
“It makes sense that if you take care of your physical body now, it will take care of you later,” Nanci concluded. “It’s a real privilege for me to watch people’s abilities change in a positive way thanks to the programs we offer at the Wellness Connection. Watching seniors take back control of something they felt they’ve lost, whether it’s mental or physical, is such a gift.

“We want our seniors to live the best life possible and we’re incredibly proud that the Wellness Connection Fitness Club can provide the exercise programs, support and camaraderie that can help them live the full life they deserve.” ■

To learn more about O’Connor Woods, visit oconnorwoods.org.