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Senior man with kite

Late last month, winds in Chicagoland and the Great Lakes region got up past 60 miles per hour, downing trees and power lines and creating a chilling, eerie howl across the miles.

Coming in like a ferocious lion this year, March is known for its gusty conditions, especially in the Windy City. Excessive wind in March is largely due to the combination of cold air masses still hanging on from winter, creating high-pressure areas, and warmer temperatures paired with increased sunshine (low-pressure areas).

While wind serves important, positive functions – spreading seeds, for example, and allowing us some great kite flying, sailing and wind sport experiences– it has a bit of a bad rap in the colloquial realm.

Incessant talkers and braggarts are called “gas bags” (which is fitting, given that wind itself is the flow of gases), “wind bags” and “blowhards.” A sweet whisper or soft murmur can be compared to a summer breeze, but boastful yakking is likened to a forceful gale. (Gas and wind go together in another expression, but we’ll leave that where it is.)

Long-winded discussion of idioms aside, let’s look at the importance of healthy air flow to the human body, particularly older bodies. Given the preponderance of lung-related illnesses in seniors (the Lung Institute estimates that 10 million older adults are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis each year, 4.7 million with emphysema), maintaining a healthy respiratory system is paramount.

But, rest assured, older lungs can get a second wind.

Multiple sources claim that aerobic exercise is the best measure older adults can take to fend off respiratory illnesses and the effect of aging lungs in general. The Mayo Clinic has even found that high-intensity aerobic exertion is beneficial to seniors. Also called “cardio,” aerobic exercise increases heart rate and allows more blood and oxygen into the muscles and body. If done regularly, aerobic exercise boosts the entire pulmonary system, increasing the maximum amount of oxygen the lungs can handle, and tones the heart and lungs as well.

Running and cycling are some of the most common forms of aerobic exercise, but they can be difficult for many seniors, due to stress on the joints and balance issues. Great alternatives include walking, water aerobics, swimming, dancing, and other ingenious activities such as the Drum Fit classes residents of Monarch Landing enjoy so much.

Monarch Landing’s fitness calendar is positively brimming with classes and programs that increase lung capacity in fun ways. These offerings place residents well within the President Council’s on Fitness recommended 150 minutes of aerobic exercise for seniors each week.

In the spacious pool, residents are in “Aquamotion” every week, with classes by that name as well as Aquacize, Aquacore, Aquaease, and Aquacombo. Country line dancing is also a favorite as well as a hiking class, Fitball, Walker Fit, and ever-new and exciting opportunities to get the heart and lungs in shape. What’s more, over 60 acres of scenic pathways on Monarch Landing’s property practically beg to be trod upon.

There is little reason to venture outside of Monarch Landing for aerobic exercise, but for those who do, the countless opportunities in Naperville are categorized on the web in “10 best” lists of gyms and fitness classes…not to mention miles of Illinois Prairie Path and the Naperville Riverwalk.

Hey, there’s even a kite flying festival in Naperville this spring. How’s that for a windy city?