At 81 years old, Janet Mangum visited the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden to “enjoy what the city has to offer” for National Senior Health and Fitness Day. As the event’s exclusive sponsor, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) collaborated with the City of Albuquerque Department of Senior Affairs to bring over 250 of the community’s seniors together to promote healthy living.
“A lot of the challenges we see at our senior centers and with our senior population is they’re not connected to the services that can actually keep them healthy,” said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, who attended and spoke at the event. “What seniors really need in addition to activity is each other, is camaraderie.”
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many older adults were isolated and unable to connect with their community or loved ones. “We wanted to come out of the pandemic with an opportunity to give them this community space,” said Anna Sanchez, the director of the Department of Senior Affairs. “I hope our seniors recognize that we value them in our community, and it has been so important for us to do special things for them and really highlight the importance of staying active and being engaged in wellness moving forward.”
The event focused on demonstrating various exercises to get the seniors up and moving since it is advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week to prevent illness, including balance exercises for adults 65 years and older. Participants followed instructors in warmup exercises, Zumba and Tai Chi in the Japanese Garden. Seniors also strolled through the garden’s two-mile walkway while enjoying the tranquil scenery.
In addition to the event’s activities, BCBSNM’s community partners participated in a mini-health fair. Lovelace conducted balance tests, Oasis Albuquerque demonstrated fall-prevention activities and other organizations provided wellness information.
“It is important that we do everything we can to keep our seniors healthy and have a good quality of life,” said BCBSNM President Janice Torrez. “This is just a great event that encourages seniors to get active and look for healthy opportunities.”