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Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Adults Stay Active with Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Programs

Dancing, golf, tennis, hiking or just enjoying a park or beach is all in a day's 'work'

Because Americans are living longer, we are concerned about retaining our youthful bounce and vigor. We all know the aging process brings about structural and functional changes to the body, but what exactly can we do to make the most of our middle and later years of life? The answer is easy: exercise! As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Active people tend to live longer, feel better about themselves and have more energy than couch potatoes. Staying active can help raise your energy level, manage stress, control your weight, maintain emotional well-being and prevent disease.

We are fortunate to live in a city that promotes being physically active, from walking at the beach to joining a multitude of health clubs or exercise programs. The Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department has offered a wide variety of affordable fitness options for decades. Active adult programs and classes are offered year round and include dance classes, fitness programs, adult sports leagues, swimming at Los Baños del Mar Pool, 401 Shoreline Drive, playing tennis at public courts and golfing at the Santa Barbara Golf Club, 3500 McCaw Ave.

Don’t know the latest dances? Don’t have a dancing partner? No problem. Parks and Recreation dance classes such as ballroom, swing, country and Zumba Gold are a fun way to get moving and socializing. Dancing is great for the muscles, balance and aerobic health. Concentrating on the music and the rhythm is also good for mental fitness. Most classes are held in the Carrillo Recreation Center Ballroom, 100 E. Carrillo St., with its unique spring-loaded floor, used by local dancers for more than 90 years and recently renovated. Beginning and intermediate level classes are offered in each type of dance style. Sign up for a full six-week session or drop in for a one-shot twirl.

You can work your muscles and add aerobic benefits while you enjoy that same summertime feeling you had as a kid in the pool. You can’t beat the heated, outdoor, 50-meter Los Baños Pool near the Santa Barbara Harbor for a perfect way to add swimming to your fitness routine. It’s a great stress reducer and easy on the soft tissue. Swim laps weekdays and weekends plus have access to the weight room as an additional benefit.

Get into the swing of golf! Walking 18 holes at the city’s municipal course is a workout in itself, let alone hitting the ball. Take a lesson, join a golf group and meet new people while out in the fresh air and enjoying the ocean and mountain views. This classic golf course provides an enjoyable experience at a very affordable price. Click here to register for Internet tee times, which makes it easy to schedule a game.

Participating in team sports doesn’t have to stop based on your age. Join a city sports league and feel like a kid again. Shoot some hoops, hit a homer and live actively. Adult leagues in softball, indoor volleyball, basketball and soccer. Join as an individual or round up your friends to make a team.

Tennis is a game to play and enjoy no matter what your age or ability. Playing tennis can increase your vigor and vitality, improve reflexes, and strengthen your body and mind. We offer group classes and private lessons year round at the Municipal Tennis Center, 1414 Park Place at Old Coast Highway. If you already play and love doubles, check out our fun social round robin doubles Mondays at 6:15 p.m. at Pershing Park, 100 Castillo St. For a unique high-energy workout, try our Cardio Tennis class at 9 a.m. Wednesdays.

Did you know Santa Barbara has 12,000 acres of open space and 57 parks? Think of the city as your own backyard. Get fit by exploring our open spaces through walking, hiking or biking from a vigorous nature hike through 20-acre Parma Park to a bike ride along Cabrillo Boulevard to a leisurely stroll and sit at Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden, 1500 Santa Barbara St. Pick up a free city park map at 620 Laguna St. and cover some ground.

The Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department publishes an online Activity Guide twice a year — August and March — which describes classes, programs, schedules and fees. Registration is online, in class, by mail or fax, or on-site. Click here for more information, or call 805.564.5418. Get moving!

— Kathleen Sullivan is with the Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department.

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