Emerging from an RVA Hibernation
Springtime ‘therapies’ for a spirit of health
Wintertime is like a low-level cold: we watch TV while wrapped up in blankets, sipping a hot toddy or cocoa; we stay home, avoiding the bulky coats and blasts of frigid air; even our psyches may experience lethargy and inertia.
But springtime is like waking up after an illness, with few lingering sniffles but a return of energy. Warming temperatures and lengthening days, the first buds and blooms, the flocks of birds winging their way north – the signs of spring fill us with hope.
In “Emerging from Hibernation,” BOOMER suggests resources for making the most of the River City and surrounding counties. We sprinkle in proactive “therapies” for making the most of the new season and regaining a spirit of health. And we highlight one local group that brings yachting enthusiasts together for fun and competition.
Celebrate spring in RVA with friends and fun!
We know this intuitively, but it’s useful to be reminded how positive social relationships have positive effects on our health. Studies have confirmed the link, which continues to be strong as we age. The National Institute on Aging reports on the powerful correlation between social interaction and health and well-being among older adults and, conversely, between social isolation and significant adverse effects.
Having fun helps “re-create” our spirits, easing stress, promoting positive endorphins and building relationships. A 2009 study revealed that participants who spent time in activities they enjoyed not only felt better, their blood pressure, stress hormone levels and other physiological markers also benefited.
Spending time in nature has been linked to boosts in serotonin and to increased feelings of emotional stability and joy – plus, the outdoors provides natural doses of Vitamin D. If you’re outside walking, biking, hiking or taking part in sports, you derive the additional benefits of exercise, and possibly of social interaction.
Even gardening grounds us. “In the 19th century, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and recognized as the Father of American Psychiatry, was first to document the positive effect working in the garden had on individuals with mental illness,” reports the American Horticultural Therapy Association. And certainly on the rest of us, too.
Regular contact with an animal can help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels; in other words, a pet is good for your heart. As all animal lovers know, that loving bond provides companionship and decreases stress.
When you take a dog for a walk, you’re getting “fresh air therapy” and exercise. As The New York Times reported, “Dog owners are 34 percent more likely to achieve the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week than non-dog owners.” What’s more, being out and about with a dog pretty much guarantees positive social interactions!
In nursing homes, the presence of animals rejuvenated the residents, enlivening their spirits and energy.
FEED YOUR SOUL AND YOUR SOCIAL LIFE
Resources for embracing Central Virginia and its people
Boredom has become a scarce commodity in the Richmond area. We’ve received accolades from Southern Living, Garden and Gun, Travel + Leisure, and multiple other media outlets. These top ratings sing the praises of our restaurants; arts, music and theater; outdoor fun; history; craft breweries, cideries and distilleries; and so much more.
Since enjoyment multiplies when shared, this BOOMER guide highlights Richmond-based group-centered activities that provide stimulation, fun and social engagement.
GET OUT OF YOUR SEAT AND ONTO THE STAGE
- CAT Theatre Bifocals. This professional theater company offers a “by seniors for seniors” program, including classes in improv and Shakespeare as well as touring plays to senior facilities, featuring actors 50 and over. CATTheatre.com/bifocals-shows-this-season
- Coalition Theater. Founded by veteran comedians, Coalition presents improv, standup and sketch comedy performances as well as training from beginning to advanced. RVAcomedy.com
- CSZ Richmond Theater. Comedy-Sportz Richmond offers family-friendly improv shows and classes for adults and children. CSZrva.com
- Greater Richmond Chorus. A member of Sweet Adelines International, GRC women perform barbershop a capella four-part harmony showcasing vocal and choreographed showmanship. GRCsings.com
- One Voice Chorus. A diverse community of more than 100 non-auditioned singers and an auditioned ensemble which performs at concerts, benefits for social justice and other events. OneVoiceChorus.org
- Monument City Music. The nonprofit engages with GALA Choruses, a national organization supporting the LGBT choral movement. The Richmond group includes a women’s chorus, a men’s chorus and a small ensemble focusing on LGBTQ equality. MCMrva.org
- USA Dance – Richmond. USA Dance promotes the social and competitive aspects of ballroom dancing among amateur dancers. The Richmond chapter holds two monthly dances and occasional special events. USAdanceRichmond.org
- Richmond Shag Club. Members meet twice a week to dance to Carolina shag music. Free beginner lessons and intermediate lessons, followed by open dance and fellowship. Facebook @ The Richmond Shag Club
ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES
- Studio Two Three. The nonprofit art studio offers affordable classes at all levels and studio membership, giving 24/7 access to studio facilities for multiple media equipment as well as a community of fellow artists and craftspeople. StudioTwoThree.org
- Bon Air Artists. Members meet regularly to share with each other and to access exhibit opportunities. BonAirArtists.com
- James River Writers. Members can take part in multiple educational opportunities and connect with and learn from fellow writers of all experience levels. JamesRiverWriters.org
BE A SPORT
- Greater Richmond Pickleball. The group meets seasonally to play pickleball, a racquet sport that’s rapidly growing in popularity nationwide. Facebook @ Greater Richmond Pickleball
- Silver Squirrels. Baseball fans age 60 and over can join the FUNN at Richmond Flying Squirrels games. Membership levels include tickets, concession vouchers and swag. SquirrelsBaseball.com
- YMCA Active Adults. Besides targeted exercises classes, the YMCA offers activities to keep older adults engaged, learning and active, through trips, lunch-and-learns and more. YMCARichmond.org
- Richmond Road Runners Club. People of all levels and ages join to support running in the region through sponsored races, training teams, kids’ programs and group runs. RRRC.org
- Richmond Sports Backers. The nonprofit promotes active lifestyles throughout the area. To engage regularly with others, participants can join training teams or volunteer for coaching kids or adults, to be a fitness instructor and more. SportsBackers.org
- Les Boulefrogs pétanque club. Club members gather twice weekly to play this French game – like bocce ball and marbles. Boulefrogs.com
- Richmond Area Bicycling Association (RABA): Offers regular organized rides for cyclists of all levels and abilities. RABA.org
LEND A HAND
- Richmond Symphony Orchestra League. The members of RSOL come together to support the Richmond Symphony through fundraising, education and community involvement. RSOL.org
- Richmond SPCA Running Buddies. Walk or run with a dog who’s waiting for his forever home (and maybe take one home for good!). RichmondSPCA.org/runningbuddies
- rvaMORE. An all-volunteer organization dedicated to maintaining the trail system in the Richmond area, especially for mountain biking. RVAmore.org
- Sportable. Volunteer to help a disabled individual, age 5 and up, to train and compete in sports. Sportable.org
ENGAGE YOUR MIND
- Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Besides a range of classes all year long, Osher offers travel opportunities and targeted special interest groups for adults 50 and over. SPCS.richmond.edu/osher
- The Shepherd’s Center of Richmond. Encouraging older adults to remain active and independent through enrichment programs and volunteer service to their peers. TSCOR.org
- Weinstein JCC. Connect, engage and learn through one of the many social and intellectual programs and events for active adults. WeinsteinJCCorg/active-adults/programming/
- Prime Timers Central Virginia. A private membership organization of mature gay and bisexual men coming together to promote educational, cultural and social activities. PrimeTimersCV.org
- Promoting Art for Life Enrichment Through Transgenerational Engagement connects health professional students and active older adults to explore the arts and build intergenerational relationships. PaletteProgram.org
- Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield center. The Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield is designed to meet the educational, fitness and social enrichment needs of adults age 50 and up. LLIChesterfield.org
- Senior Center of Greater Richmond. Operating at several area locations, the Senior Center offers programs and activities for social engagement, physical well-being, civic involvement, creativity and learning. SeniorCenterofGreaterRichmond.org
LET YOUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT GUIDE YOU
Local governments support boomers’ desire to get out, stay active and mingle. Sports lovers can join leagues such as softball, golf, bowling, pickleball and tennis. Card sharks can participate in regular rounds of games like pinochle, mahjong and bridge. Travelers can take daylong bus excursions to explore the sights and sounds of a different city with friends new and – well, longtime. Also on the to-do list are volunteer opportunities, educational experiences and recreational classes to banish the word “bored” entirely.
- Chesterfield: Chesterfield.gov/ActiveLifestyles
- Henrico: Henrico.us/Rec/Senior-Clubs-Leagues
- Richmond: RichmondGov.com/Parks
- Hanover: HanoverCounty.gov/151/Adult-Sport
- Goochland: GoochlandVA.us/253/General-Programs