Active Aging Pilot Aims to Help Seniors Navigate the City Without Their Cars to Improve Their Health

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On Wednesday, the City of Santa Monica Active Aging Pilot Program will host a walking and bicycling safety class for seniors at Wise & Healthy at 1527 4th Street at 2 p.m. The Active Aging program is a pilot program to help adults 65 and up use transportation options to get around the community. The program aims to improve older adults’ mobility, safety, and health by helping them walk, bicycle, and take transit more often. 

“When older adults don’t have transportation, or don’t know how to use mobility services, it’s harder for them to get their employment, recreation, and health needs met,” explains a statement on the city’s website. “This program aims to improve older adults’ mobility, safety, and health by helping them walk, bicycle, and take transit more often.”

The importance of an active lifestyle for seniors cannot be overstated. Both physical and mental health issues can be avoided or improved through healthier living and all one has to do is google “active living seniors” and thousands of blog posts and articles from doctors and senior care centers will blanket your computer screen. 

One that caught my eye was a 2021 study by Dr. Christopher Zambakari entitled simply “The Benefits and Importance of Exercise for Seniors” which notes that the health and mental wellness issues associated with aging are becoming more serious as people are living longer and longer lifespans.

“Several studies have revealed that exercise improves overall immune functions in senior-age citizens. Moreover, regular physical activity decreases stress, anxiety and depression, which are contributing factors to many illnesses, such as neuropsychiatric and sleeping disorders,” Zaraki writes.

Funded in last year’s budget, Santa Monica’s pilot expires at the end of June if it is not renewed. While public health agencies in many cities have created programs designed to improve the health of its residents; Santa Monica’s is somewhat unique in that instead of just creating walking clubs or yoga groups, it aims to make it easier for residents to improve their lifestyles to increase their activity.

In other words, this next event isn’t about a fun group bike ride, it’s literally a bike safety course. As e-bikes make bicycling physically less challenging, bicycling becomes a more viable option for anyone. If you’re interested but can’t make this class, another one will be held the following week on Thursday, March 23. A previous March event aimed to demystify transit and Big Blue Bus rides for people unfamiliar with the city’s transit system.

Links on the Active Aging website offer a subscription to their newsletter and a chance for “ambassadors” to help spread the word about the program and volunteer for future events. A separate link provides information and encouragement for seniors to move around Santa Monica without using their automobiles.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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