8 posts categorized "Fitness"

May 2, 2016

Reducing Stress Among LGBT Older Adults

This post originally appeared on Diverse Elders Coalition on April 26th, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Maria Glover Wallace

April is National Stress Awareness Month and there is no better time for seniors to relax and recoup! Our LGBT seniors may face daily stress regarding housing, healthcare, and finances. Thankfully, many can find comfort in community during regular interaction and engagement in programming provided by community organizations such as Affinity Community Services in Chicago, IL.  Affinity provides a safe and brave space for LGBT seniors participating in the monthly Trailblazers peer-led group.

The LGBT communities face high levels of discrimination and prejudice for who they are and who they love, beginning in youth and continuing through later years in life. Compounded with the stress of aging – issues of health, fitness, mental health, caregiving, economic security, and more – our elders may be experiencing a lot of stress. A study in 2011 from the University of Washington showed that older adults who identify as LGBT face higher rates of disabilities and physical and mental stress than their heterosexual peers.


Our LGBT seniors are a vital resource of strength and remembrance for the many strides of progress in our community. They should not suffer this undue burden. So, what are some ways that we can reduce this stress?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 18 million adults in the US practiced meditation last year. Meditation, along with group activities that include yoga and guided meditation, are wonderful opportunities for LGBT seniors to relax and release some stress while also building community. Additional techniques for stress relief include:

  • keeping a journal
  • creating art
  • exercising
  • dancing
  • using essential oils to relax
  • downloading mobile apps for individual meditation
  • taking walks to enjoy nature

What are some techniques that you use to reduce stress?

Upcoming Events for LGBT Seniors:
The Affinity Trailblazers will host their annual dance “Dancing in Style,” Saturday evening, May 7, 2016 at the Caribbean Cove Restaurant. Please contact Affinity Community Services for more information: 773-324-0377

Affinity Community Services has also launched a care skills initiative called “Trailblazers Who Care” in collaboration with The Care Plan. They are pleased to present a FREE informative monthly workshop series on the 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6pm-8pm.  Please call to RSVP: 630-479-0083

New York
Every Monday through Thursday from 10am to 11am, SAGE Center Bronx hosts an open art studio. Spend the morning creating art with us! Our art supplies will be available for all to use. SAGE Center Bronx also hosts Yoga at 11am and Pilates at 12pm every Monday. Questions? SAGE Center Bronx, 718-960-3337, jcollazo@sageusa.org

Every Tuesday at 11am, SAGE-Griot Innovative Senior Center of Brooklyn hosts sitting Tai Chi. Designed for elders, this program will help those with arthritis and other ailments that prevent full movement. Questions? Aundaray Guess, 718-246-2775, aundaray@griotcircle.org

SAGE Center Harlem hosts a Zumba class every Tuesday and Thursday at 11am. Once you feel the rhythms of Latin and World music you’ll forget you’re in a “workout” session. Join us as we shake off calories with aerobic dance moves, one cha-cha step at a time. Consultant provided by Harlem Wellness Center. Questions? SAGE Center Harlem, 646-660-8951, sageharlem@sageusa.org

For a complete calendar of SAGE events, see http://www.sageusa.org/newsevents/calendar.cfm

NHCOA recently launched its new health, fitness, and wellness curriculum for Hispanic older adults called Move, Exercise, and Nourish. Read their blog to learn more about this exciting program, and stay tuned to NHCOA’s Facebook page to see when the program might be coming to your area!

The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging has a great Healthy Aging Toolkit for older adults, which includes myriad resources that can improve health and reduce stress.

Please share your events and resources with us on Facebook and Twitter!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. What do you need to know as an LGBT older adult? Follow the SAGE blog this month for more!
March 6, 2014

LGBT Health Month is Here

1003088Did you know that March is New York's LGBT Health Month (in addition to Women's History Month, of course)?

This year's theme is "Access to Care" -- focusing on increased health services for LGBT New Yorkers, including the options under the Affordable Care Act. Since LGBT older adults deal with significant health disparities across areas related to physical and mental health, including high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and more, "Access to Care" is even more important for our population.

Throughout the month, we will be highlighting a variety of SAGE programs, fact sheets and reports related to the health and wellbeing of our LGBT older adults. To kick things off, we're including a list of all SAGE programs featured in the NYS LGBT Health Awareness Month Calendar and don't forget our special page for information on the Affordable Care Act.

The programs below are offered at The SAGE Center at 305 Seventh Avenue on the 15th floor and are for LGBT adults age 60 and over. 

  • Dealing with Stress: Saturdays from 3-4:30 - Psychotherapist-led open support group
  • Health as a Memoir: Wednesday, March 12, 3 – 4:30 pm- Workshop from Say Ah! that works with you to construct your  personal health history and thereby better help you maintain your health
  • Ask The Docs – Workshop on Women’s Health: Monday, March 24,  3-4:30 pm – Our monthly series with specialists from Beth Israel, focusing in March month on women’s health issues in honor of Women’s History month
  • S.H.E. (Strong. Healthy. Energized): Wednesday, March 5, 2-3 pm – An informational session our 12 week fitness program for lesbian and bisexual women to be launched in April
  • Max, the Therapy Dog: Mondays  3/3, 3/10, 3/24 & 3/31 at 6:30 pm  
  • Meditation: Tuesdays, 4-4:45 pm – With Dojun
  • Gentle Yoga: Tuesdays, 6:15-7 pm
  • Tai Chi: Wednesdays, 3:30-4:30 – With Doc Woodbine
  • Blood Pressure Clinic: Thursdays, 3:30-4 pm – Get your blood pressure checked with Nurse Mary
  • Movement Workshop: Tuesdays, 3:30-4:30 pm – With Billy
  • Medicare Minute: Wednesday, March 12th at 4:30 – Part D Appeals
  • Ask the Pharmacist: Tuesday, March 18, 4-4:45 pm – Marina, pharmacist from Walgreen’s, talks about foot care
  • MS Support Group: Mondays at 6:30 pm – Drop-in for all ages, facilitated by MS Society

Additionally, our SAGE Harlem location at 2090 Seventh Ave. @ 125th Street, Suite 201 offers:

  • New Beginnings HIV Support Group: Tuesdays, 2-3:30 pm – drop in for MSM’s age 40 and over
  • Sexuality & Spirituality Discussions : Mondays, 3/10 & 3/24, 2:30-4 pm with Program Coordinator Chris Jones
  • Grief Group: Saturdays, 3/3  & 3/15 – Support group for older adults (50+) dealing with grief & loss

The SAGE Center Brooklyn, at 30 Third Avenue in the YWCA, 2nd floor offers:

  • Gentle Yoga: Thursdays, 1-2 pm (except no class 3/20) – With Ria Cooper
February 24, 2014

SHE: Empowering Women Through Health and Fitness

Felicia_sobelFelicia Sobel joined SAGE in June, 2011 as its first Women’s Programming Coordinator.  A licensed clinical social worker, she welcomed the opportunity to embrace the goal of expanding programs and events for women in the lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.  The SAGE SHE (Strong. Healthy. Energized) program developed in conjunction with the Lewin Research Group, is a fitness program that is now in its second run. Read more about the group, co-faciliated by Felicia, below.

When I first learned that the federal Office of Women’s Health was providing funds earmarked for a fitness program just for lesbians and bisexual women, I wondered why these particular groups were being singled out. Then I learned that in fact there is a greater proportion of overweight women in this population than in its heterosexual counterpart.  In view of this finding, I realized this program could create a comfortable atmosphere for lesbian and bisexual participants who may feel reluctant to join a gym or other exercise program and knew it could be beneficial to SAGE members.

In planning meetings with an advisory council, including Lewin staff and several professionals representing various health disciplines, as well as myself, the potential of this offering came to light as a truly innovative, holistic approach to health and fitness and weight problems.  The emphasis would not be on losing pounds, but rather on acquiring habits that would lead to improved fitness and health

Each of the 12 sessions of the first program at The SAGE Center included exercises, led by Ruth Gursky (a personal trainer), a discussion group component, and information on nutrition–including pointers on reading food and drink labels, and cooking.


Each participant was given a Fitbit—a pedometer and activity tracking device, along with encouragement to keep track of the steps she took each week. All were invited to go on walks, usually on the Highline, after the weekly sessions.  At each session after submitting their weekly step-tracking forms, participants received step goals for the following week.  Raffles were provided based on attendance and submission of the step data.  Midway through the program and at its conclusion, there were substantial monetary rewards.  Other prizes included Trader Joe’s gift cards, fanny packs and SHE tee-shirts. A major ongoing plus was a healthy dose of fun!

There was a concerted effort to obtain participants’ feedback.  Focus groups were held and the comments were largely positive. Some participants enjoyed the general benefits, such as an improved sense of well-being. Others were  quite specific in what parts of the program helped. One reported having a change of heart about the importance of reading food labels in order to understand what she was actually consuming and how it could affect her health. As one woman said, “For me, a crucial feature of the program was the tone in which the material was presented: warm, supportive, non-judgmental and psychologically healthy.”

The first round of the SHE program, which ran from this past October through early February, yielded sufficient success to warrant a spring version. An informational session will be held on March 5 from 2-3PM and the program will begin its 12-week start on April 2 (2-3:30 PM). To RSVP for the March 5 session or to request more information, please email me at fsobel@sageusa.org.

January 29, 2014

NYC LGBT seniors compete in virtual bowling tournaments with Microsoft Xbox

This blog post by Daniel Hubbell, was originally featured on the Microsoft Accessibility Blog. Read the original post here.

Barbara Police, 64, loved bowling since she was a kid. After she lost her sight 14 years ago, she was able to continue playing at a specially constructed bowling alley for people with visual impairments.  But several years ago, a shoulder injury made it too painful for her to lift and throw a bowling ball. Now, thanks to the new Exergamers NYC program for seniors, Barbara is back in the game. Along with her partner of 38 years, Pat Sloane, she bowls every week at The SAGE Center in Chelsea.

Exergaming combines technology with exercise, allowing seniors to improve their physical, mental and social well-being by participating in friendly competition and interactive gaming.  The project is made possible by a public-private partnership between Microsoft, NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA), and NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT). Exergaming has taken root in many of DFTA’s Innovative Senior Centers, which operates throughout all the boroughs of New York City. 

A few months ago, the SAGE center was given Microsoft Kinect for Xbox, which relies on motion sensors—no heavy lifting involved. "Virtual bowling is terrific for me," Barbara explains, "because there's no weight! I just have to swing and hope for the best." As a person who is blind, she says virtual bowling opens up a new world to her. She's at less of a disadvantage with video games than physical games, since she's able to recreate the two-dimensional backdrop using her imagination—and the help of Pat, 70, who describes to her what's on the screen. It allows me think in my mind what it must look like," Barbara explains. "My mind is virtual!" She lights up when she talks about the game, and says she'd love to learn to play other kinds of games using the Xbox—like baseball.

Continue reading "NYC LGBT seniors compete in virtual bowling tournaments with Microsoft Xbox" »

January 8, 2014

A Healthier YOU: Chair Yoga

According to a 2011 national study on LGBT older adults, high percentages of LGBT older people struggle with health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol, arthritis, cataracts, asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and more. That's why SAGE is dedicated to providing programs and services designed to help and educate our LGBT elders on a variety of fitness, health and wellness issues. Starting this month, we are highlighting a few of our programs held at The SAGE Center. This post introduces "Chair Yoga" from The SAGE Center's instructor, Ria Cooper.

Photo Credit: Katie Orlinsky for Al Jazeera America

What is Chair Yoga?

“Chair yoga” refers to the form of gentle yoga practiced while sitting in a chair (or while standing and using the chair for support or balance). Traditional yoga poses are modified to be accessible for students in chairs. In a regular 45-minute chair yoga class at SAGE, we focus on the breath and on the body by doing simple poses that allow us to stretch, breathe, reach, twist, lengthen, strengthen, balance, and relax. The relaxation and meditation practices at the end of class can help us to release stress and can give us an opportunity to check in with ourselves and relax.

What Are the Benefits of Practicing Chair Yoga?

Benefits of chair yoga can include but are not limited to: lower stress levels, lower blood pressure, improved balance, increased flexibility, increased bone density, improved cognitive function, chronic back pain relief, improved lung capacity, anxiety relief, lower risk of heart disease, etc...

Who Can Do Chair Yoga?

Everyone and anyone! Chair yoga can be especially useful for and accessible to older adults who may be dealing with physical limitations from injuries or aging-related stresses to the body. The measured pacing of the class allows for easeful transitions from one pose to the next, and there is always time for questions and individual modifications if a particular pose doesn’t feel right. Chair yoga can also be a good introduction to yoga if you’re brand new and are interested but have never tried it.

What Should I Wear?

You should wear loose-fitting clothing that you feel comfortable moving in and that doesn’t restrict your movement. Some people like to take off their socks and shoes; some don’t. It’s entirely up to you.

When Can I Come Practice Chair Yoga at SAGE?

Tuesdays, 6:15-7pm, at the SAGE Center (305 Seventh Avenue, 15th floor, NY NY) and/or Thursdays, 1-1:45pm, at the The SAGE Center Brooklyn at the YWCA (30 Third Avenue, Brooklyn NY).

Who Are You?

I’m a freelance yoga teacher for the nonprofit Compass Yoga, and I teach chair yoga classes for SAGE twice a week.  I travel all over Brooklyn and Manhattan to teach at various senior centers, preschools and yoga studios, and the chair yoga classes at SAGE are my favorite. If you’re interested, you can learn more about me on my website.

November 1, 2013

Aging Gracefully with a Little Help from Technology, Senior Centers and Exergamers NYC

This blog post was written by Bonnie Kearney, director of Trustworthy Computing Communications for Accessibility and Aging at Microsoft.  Bonnie has been with Microsoft for more than 18 years and is especially passionate about building awareness for technology that improves the lives of people of all ages and abilities. The post was originally featured on Microsoft's Accessibility Blog here.

When was the last time you felt truly inspired at work? For me it was yesterday, as I watched seniors laugh and play together in the heart of New York City.

I realized the future of aging is not in a rocking chair. It is in the invigorating dance moves of Zumba, the thrill of competition in a boxing ring or a bowling lane, and exercise in a virtual environment, with the help of technology that paves the way for new connections and friendships.


Exergamer Teams
Above: Left to Right are the teams from SAGE Center, Selfhelp Senior Center and VISIONS Senior Center

In a new public-private partnership, Microsoft teamed up with New York City’s Department for the Aging (DFTA) andDepartment of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT) to develop Exergamers NYC. This program uses Kinect for Xbox in unexpected ways to promote more active and social lifestyles for New York City seniors. Participants bowl on virtual lanes, compete in boxing matches, swing for the fences in baseball games, and enjoy Zumba dance competitions. Senior centers from all five boroughs can compete against one another on Xbox and then discuss and celebrate their achievements together over Skype. The partnership builds upon the success of a 2010 collaboration between Microsoft and New York City that created the region’s first Virtual Senior Center


To witness this first hand, I traveled to New York City for the inaugural Senior Center Kinect for Xbox Bowling Competition between players from Manhattan’s SAGE Center and Queens’ Selfhelp Benjamin Rosenthal Prince Street Senior Center. While the competition was fierce, the camaraderie was genuine, with players in the virtual games cheering, teasing, and clapping.  Across town, seniors at the city’s first center for blind and visually-impaired seniors, VISIONS Selis Manor Senior Center, also enjoyed their own Xbox bowling competition. 

VISIONS serves thousands of people from all five boroughs with a wide range of vision impairments, ranging from those with some vision loss to those who are completely blind. According to center director Nancy Miller, maintaining health and physical fitness can be particularly challenging for low-vision seniors because health conditions that cause vision loss may cause other health complications. But virtual sports, such as Kinect’s bowling and Zumba, offer cardiovascular benefits without risks associated with other forms of exercise; there are no sharp objects, heavy weights to lift, or complex fitness machines to operate. And unlike climbing stairs or walking on a treadmill, exergaming is a social activity. Group activities also can help seniors regain a sense of belonging and reduce social isolation. Seniors use a yoga mat to orient themselves  spatially and listens to audio cues to know when they have the virtual bowling ball in hand using Xbox.

As I connected with seniors before and after the day’s virtual matches, I was happy to be part of it all. I particularly enjoyed hearing seniors tell stories about new-found friendships, health benefits and the thrill of competition. The Exergamers NYC collaboration between DFTA, DoITT and Microsoft has been impactful in the community. Teamwork, partnership and collaboration are all buzzwords we read about in management books and hear in staff meetings. But, this program puts these words into action and transforms lives. I have witnessed it first hand, and it’s inspiring.  

September 3, 2013

Congrats to Diana Nyad on Her Epic Swim

SAGE congratulates Diana Nyad on completing her historic swim from Cuba to Florida! Not only is she role model for the LGBT community, but her positive attitude on aging is a joy to watch.

Listen to Diana talk about how at 64 she is at "the prime of her life." A great message to us all!

February 28, 2013

The Struggle of Her Life: Finding the Strength to Recover from a Stroke

FrancesIn honor of Black History Month, the SAGE Blog featured a post on LGBT aging in the black community every Thursday during the month of February. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to read the other posts. Women’s History Month begins next week and similarly, the SAGE Blog will feature a post on LGBT older women every Friday during the month of March. Today’s post is in honor of both Black History Month and Women’s History Month. 

Frances Gordon is a health fanatic, who prides herself on doing Zumba, lifting weights and eating well. And all at age 72!

But in 2012, Ms. Gordon began to overheat during a workout and had to be rushed to the emergency room. She was shocked to discover that she suffered a stroke (an element of cardiovascular disease).

Continue reading "The Struggle of Her Life: Finding the Strength to Recover from a Stroke" »