Hooray for Healthy Aging Month


It’s Health Aging Month! From the day we are born, we are aging. People all around the country celebrate and honor this month by incorporating habits like exercise, eating healthy foods, and getting adequate sleep into their daily routines. It is also an opportunity to encourage others to stay active and take positive steps towards improving both physical and mental health. If you are already participating in a healthy and active lifestyle – CONGRATULATIONS! Take this time to evaluate your activities and see if there is something additional you can do!

Pick an activity. Choose TODAY to make a change in your lifestyle. Choose something you enjoy – walking, gardening, or incorporating more water into your diet – and commit to it.

Did you know? Physical activity and exercise have TONS of benefits. Some of them include:

Playing with their granddaughter
  • Exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells.
  • It can help slow down the aging process.
  • It can help make your skin healthier by clearing dead cells and debris from pores when you sweat during exercise.

Age is simply the number of years the world has been enjoying you!


Health Aging Month is a great time to remind ourselves (and others) to stay healthy. If you are unsure of where to start, consider a Functional Fitness Test. The assessment focuses on determining health and wellness strengths, as well as areas of opportunity. 

What’s Assessed?

Upper Body Strength
Examples: Carrying Grandchildren or Groceries

Lower Body Strength
Example: Climbing the Stairs

Examples: Reaching the Top Shelf, Fixing Your Hair

Examples: Walking Further, Playing with Grandchildren

Example: Fall Prevention

Examples: Problem Solving, Remembering Things

Celebrate your health and wellness and encourage others to do the same. If you are unsure of where to start for your own fitness journey, or if you are interested in learning some additional areas of opportunity, reach out to your Functional Pathways Therapy Team!

Welcoming Wellness Month

woman with exercise ball

It’s National Wellness Month! During the month of August, take time to prioritize your health through self-care, managing stress levels, and promoting healthy routines. We are past the half-way point of the year, and it’s a great opportunity to reflect on any resolutions we made, or goals we had for ourselves, and make sure we are still on track with our health and fitness. Remember when we discussed the seven dimensions of wellness in December/January? The key to embracing your greatest potential is through these seven dimensions. Keep these in mind as you prioritize your health this month!

As a reminder, the seven dimensions include: physical, social, spiritual, vocational, emotional, environmental, and intellectual. 

Physical: Strengthening and caring for the body 

Examples: self-care, water aerobics, group exercise, and regular doctor’s appointments

Social: Emphasizes the importance of social interactions

Examples: spending time with family, game play, bingo, Pinecone Painters

Spiritual: Finding purpose and meaning in life

Examples: meditation, Bible study, church service, worship service, singing

Vocational: Utilizing skills, passions, and strengths to help others

Examples: tutoring, mentoring, volunteering, caregiving, Hobby Pines Group 

doctor with patient

Emotional: The ability to cope with challenges and deal with feelings in a positive way

Examples: peer counseling, stress management, humor/laughter, support groups

Environmental: Respect for natural resources and/or a strong connection to the environment

Examples: recycling, taking walks outdoors, meditation, Garden Gro’ers

Intellectual: Activities that stimulate and challenge the brain

Examples: game play, bunko, mahjong, reading, puzzles, learning a new language or instrument

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

– World Health Organization
man reading a book

While it’s not a perfect recipe for success, utilizing the dimensions of wellness can help put your health and wellness needs first. This month, take time to focus on YOU. Are you taking time for yourself (emotional and physical wellness) to destress and unwind? Perhaps add some meditation to your routine, or a daily walk. If there is an area that is being neglected, think about how you might set goals and incorporate those missing dimensions into your routine to stay balanced. Reach out to your Functional Pathways Therapy Team to learn more about the dimensions of wellness and how to ensure you are putting your health and wellness needs first!

Celebrating Independence

woman exercising outdoors

“Life is not merely being alive, but being well.”
-Marcus Valerius Martialis

We all know July 4th is a federal holiday in the United States to commemorate the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. This holiday is typically filled with fireworks, BBQ, and family and friends gathering to celebrate our great country. It’s also a great opportunity to celebrate our personal independence and autonomy.

Ways to Celebrate and Promote Independence:

woman lifting weights

1. Functional Fitness Testing. Functional fitness testing is a great way to put a spotlight on your independence. Determining your baseline fitness level and making appropriate recommendations for exercise classes, programming, or additional support is a step towards continued independence. Not sure where to start? Contact the TherapyTeam!

people donating to charity

2. Look at Vocational Wellness. Vocational Wellness is one of the seven dimensions of wellness, and it is the ability to achieve personal satisfaction and fulfillment, maintain balance, and make a positive impact. Examples of vocational wellness can include mentoring or tutoring, volunteering, or even caregiving.

man using exercise machine

3. Exercise! Participate in wellness classes, walking programs, or aquatics. Keep your body moving! The more you move, the stronger and healthier your bones, muscles, and brain will be!Healthy minds and bodies promote independence!

As we celebrate our nation’s independence, take a moment, and celebrate your OWN independence – physically, mentally, spiritually. What things are you doing throughout the week, month, or even year, to spotlight your abilities and promote continued independence? Not sure where to start? The Functional Pathways Therapy Team can help!

If You Can Do More Than 8 Up the Weight!

woman holding a weight while exercising

When was the last time you lifted weights? Just like anything else, strength and your muscles have a “use it or lose it” policy. If you aren’t incorporating strength training into your fitness routine, now is the perfect time to start!

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that alternates short periods of intense anaerobic (without oxygen) exercise with brief recovery periods. Improvements in strength take place within a training zone of 5-9 repetitions. If you are unable to perform at least 8 repetitions of a specific movement (like a biceps curl), then lower the intensity (weight). If you can do more than 8 repetitions, increase the challenge for optimal outcomes.

You might do higher repetitions in an exercise class – and that’s ok! Combining HIIT into your existing exercise programs can result in the most success!

Example: You are doing a HIIT routine, and you are incorporating chair stands (standing up from a chair, from a seated position) to increase lower body strength.

Start seated in your chair, arms at your side, and stand up, completely straight.
If you can do this 10 times, advance to the next level.

Now cross your arms and try again – aim for 6-8 repetitions.
If you can do more than this, advance to the next level. 

Hold weights in your hands and try again – aim for 6-8 repetitions.
If/when this becomes easy, increase weight.

Muscles must experience stimuli higher than their current abilities to achieve improvements in muscle strength and function. Whatever level is challenging for and doable for 6-8 repetitions is your “sweet spot.”

But wait – How do we know if something is “too easy?” 
The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (PRE) is the preferred method to assess intensity. Also, a direct correlation between PRE and heart rate has been found with the use of this scale with exercise. It is often found that if you rate your PRE at an 11 (light) then their heart rate is likely around 110 bpm. While doing strength training in a HIIT routine, aim for a PRE of 12-17.

If you are unsure of where to get started, our therapy team at Kirby Pines can help you identify which strength training exercises and methods are best suited for you. For more information, please contact the Functional Pathways Therapy Team.

man exercising with weights

Celebrating Better Hearing & Speech

May is a special month for all of us who value the power of speech, the magic of hearing and the pleasure of eating and drinking. That’s right, folks, May is Better Hearing and Speech Month! A time when we can all come together and celebrate the importance of healthy communication, hearing, and swallowing. 

Did you know? Speech Therapists and Audiologists are the professionals who assist those who may be struggling with communication, cognition, eating safely, and hearing deficits. But why limit the festivities to just one month? After all, speech, hearing, and eating are important all year round! 

Here’s a list of fun ways to celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month any time of year: 

Play a Game! A communication-themed game, such as Pictionary, Taboo, Headbanz, Boggle, Scrabble, or The Mind, are great for challenging your communications skills. They require you to express yourself clearly, actively listen, and problem solve to win! Not to mention, playing as a group incorporates an important social aspect as well! 

Host a Karaoke Party! Singing is a great way to exercise your vocal cords and improve your speech. Whether you are belting out your favorite tune or singing in the shower, make some time for music this month! Who knows – you may discover a hidden talent! 

Try New Foods! Believe it or not, trying new foods and drinks can improve your hearing! That’s right – eating can improve your HEARING! Certain nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, can help protect your ears from damage. So, challenge yourself to try new and healthy foods this month. FYI – National Lemonade and Apple Pie Day are also in May. There are TONS of different lemonade flavors to try – roasted peach, lavender thyme, blueberry, strawberry, blackberry mint – so this might be a great place to start! 

Communication is the essence of human life”. 

-Janice Light

Practice Mindful Listening At its most basic sense, mindful listening is taking time to experience what we are hearing in the moment. It’s about being present and patient. Put aside distractions and set your intentions to completely in the moment. Take a breath and take in the sounds around you – birds chirping, wind rustling the trees, laughter. Mindful listening supports being more present – listening is a discipline that takes time and practice. 

While Better Hearing and Speech Month is officially celebrated one month out of the year, we can celebrate our ability to speak and communicate, eat and enjoy the foods and drinks we love, cognition and brain health year-round. If you are struggling with any of these items, or have concerns about them, please contact the Functional Pathways Therapy Team for guidance. 

One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you cannot utter”. 

-James Earl Jones

Finding Your Inner Artist

“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it”.
— Andy Warhol

What is art? Is it a famous painting hanging in a museum, song lyrics of your favorite song, or a hand-drawn card from a grandchild? Art is an expression that stimulates an individual’s thoughts, emotions, beliefs, or ideas through the senses – so, the famous painting, song lyrics, and hand-drawn card are ALL examples of art. 

There are many health benefits to being artistically creative. Studies have shown that expression through art can help with depression, anxiety, and stress. In addition, it has also been linked to improving memory, reasoning, and resilience. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be Picasso to reap the health benefits! It’s the ACT of creating art that is beneficial, not the artwork itself, and there are many ways to get creative, such as through: poetry, painting, pottery, music, and dance, just to name a few. 

Let’s look at some of the benefits of art: 

Relieves Anxiety and Stress – Engaging in artmaking can significantly reduce cortisol (“stress hormone”) levels in the body. Why? Creating art is like meditation – it forces the mind to slow down, focus on the details, and block out distractions. Painting, sculpting, drawing, and photography are relaxing and rewarding, and they can leave you feeling mentally clear and calm. Creating art provides a distraction, giving your brain a break from usual thoughts. 

Maintain Fine Motor Skills – Small muscles in the fingers, hands, and wrists are utilized during art creation. These motions, such as holding a paintbrush or pencil, molding clay, or writing poetry, are great for maintaining fine motor skills. 

Socialize and Connect – Art programs provide a community with an opportunity for attendees to share a similar purpose and commitment. You can connect with neighbors over your love of arts and crafts, or your interest in trying a new hobby. If group events don’t interest you, consider getting together with family or friends and work on something together! You get the same benefits, but in a more intimate setting. 

Not an artist? That’s ok! Does the idea of a blank canvas intimidate you, but you still want to give art a try? Consider starting off with a paint-by-number or coloring book instead. These allow for creative choices on which colors to choose and allow for artistic independence but provide some guidance. 

Art has a positive effect on both the brain and the body. You may find the addition of art into your routine can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. If you aren’t already attending, try out the Poetry Group, Hobby Pines Group, or the Pinecone Painters to get started! If you are unsure of where to get started, our therapy team at Kirby Pines can help bring the fine motor skills used in creating art into your rehabilitation experience. For more information on the benefits of art or to learn more about therapy and how it can benefit you, please contact the Functional Pathways Therapy Team. 

“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life”. 
— Pablo Picasso 

Get Better Sleep!

You may recall an article a while back on successful sleep. Well, sleep is so important to maintaining good physical and mental function, we are back with more helpful sleep tips! Remember, sleep is how your mind and body recharge, and without it, you cannot function properly. 

Here are some controllable factors to help with a good night’s sleep: 

Limit Screen Time. The National Sleep Foundation recommends you stop using electronic devices, like your phone or tablet, at least 30 minutes before bedtime. If possible, avoid watching tv or using your phone, computer, or tablet, in the bedroom. The blue light emitted from these devices restrains the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle. Instead, try reading a book. 

Avoid Caffeine Late in the Day. Having caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate) later in the day can keep you awake at night. The level of caffeine in your blood peaks around one hour after consumption, and stays at that level for several hours for most people. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, but it is recommended you do not consume caffeine at least six hours before bedtime. 

Pick the Perfect Temperature. Sleep experts recommend keeping the room around 65 degrees, to help induce sleep and support better sleep patterns. However, if you are used to sleeping in a warmer room, slowly decrease bedroom temperatures and see if it has a positive impact. Also think about the bedding and pajamas you are wearing – are they conducive to a “cool” night’s sleep? 

Avoid Eating Large Meals Close to Bedtime. While it may seem like a good idea to go to sleep on a nice full stomach, eating a large meal right before bed can lead to tummy troubles. If your stomach is still digesting food when you lie down, you may experience acid reflux, heartburn, or nausea, which can keep you up. Remember, sleep is a time for your body to rest and that’s impossible if you’re trying to digest a meal. It is recommended that you wait three hours after eating a meal to go to bed. 

Nap Smart. Naps can help reduce fatigue, increase alertness, and improve mood and memory, but try to nap smart. Keep naps short – aim for 10 to 20 minutes. The longer you nap, the more likely you are to feel groggy. Take naps in the early afternoon. Napping later in the day (after 3 p.m.) can interfere with nighttime sleep. 

If you are struggling with healthy sleep hygiene, contact the Functional Pathways Therapy Team for assistance! 

Happy Sleeping! 

Boost Your Brain!

It’s a well-known fact that regular physical activity is beneficial. It strengthens bones and muscles, combats health conditions and diseases, improves mood, boosts energy and makes you feel better. Another benefit to physical activity is the positive impact it has on your brain! 

Being physically active improves cognitive health – it can improve the way you think, learn, problem-solve, and help you enjoy an emotional balance. Exercising can also improve your memory, reduce anxiety, and even help improve your quality of sleep. And here’s the best part – ANY amount of physical activity has been shown to be beneficial. 

Some of the effects of exercise on brain health happen immediately, meaning they occur during exercise or shortly thereafter, such as a reduced feeling of anxiety, improved sleep, and improved aspects of cognitive function. With regular physical activity, other long-term benefits occur, such as improvements in executive function (the ability to plan and organize, initiate tasks, control emotions), deep sleep, and more long-term anxiety management. 

What Can You Do? 

Being active might be easier than you think. Here are some ideas for how to stay active throughout the day. Remember – every little bit counts! 

Daily Chores – what might count as physical activity? Cleaning, gardening, laundry, and other household chores can count as activity for the day! If it’s getting you up and moving, it certainly counts. 

Be Active While Watching TV – think of ways to be active to reduce the amount of sedentary time in the day. Keep a list of activities, such as arm circles, marching in place, or leg kicks, to do during commercial breaks, while watching your favorite shows. 

Walk – walking is one of the simplest and most effective things we can do. Walk your dog, walk with a friend, walk to get the mail. Take the long way to get to dinner. Walk two times around the lake. Think of ways to get extra steps in! 

The pros of exercise are countless. The next time you attend an exercise or dancing class, talk a walk, or a dip in the pool, remember you are improving your physical health, and your cognitive health! 

If you need help determining which exercises might be best for you to, reach out to the Functional Pathways Therapy Team and we will be happy to help guide you!


If you squint your eyes, you can see 2023 on the fast-approaching horizon. It’s a time for resolutions and goals, as well as an opportunity to make sure you are incorporating all the dimensions of being and staying well. The key to embracing your greatest potential is through these seven dimensions. 

Wellness is being able to lead purpose-filled and engaged lives. By doing this, you can embrace your potential to pursue and optimize life’s possibilities. Your greatest potential lives in seven different dimensions: physical, social, spiritual, vocational, emotional, environmental, and intellectual. 

Spiritual: Finding purpose and meaning in life.
Examples: meditation, Bible Study, Church Service, Worship Service.

Vocational: Utilizing your skills, passions, and strengths to help others.
Examples: Tutoring, mentoring, volunteering, caregiving, Hobby Pines Group.

Emotional: The ability to cope with challenges and deal with feelings in a positive way.
Examples: peer counseling, stress management, humor/laughter, support groups.

Physical: Strengthening and caring for the body to stay as independent as possible.
Examples: Water Aerobics, Group Exercise, and regular doctor’s appointments.

Social: Emphasizes the importance of social interactions.
Examples: spending time with family, Game Play, Bingo, Pinecone Painters.

Environmental: Respect for natural resources and/or a strong connection to the environment.
Examples: recycling, taking walks outdoors, meditation, Garden Gro’ers.

Intellectual: Activities that stimulate and challenge the brain.
Examples: Game Play, Bunko, Mahjong, reading, puzzles.

Look at how you spend a week or month. Are you hitting all the dimensions listed above? Some of the activities you participate in, like group classes, may hit a few dimensions at once (physical and social). If there is an area that is being neglected, think about how you might set goals to include those into your routine to stay balanced. Reach out to your Functional Pathways Therapy Team to learn more about the dimensions of wellness and how to ensure you are setting yourself up for a balanced 2023. Happy New Year!

Setting Yourself Up for Success!

Pre-Game Preparations.
Plan out simple things to stay on track.

The holidays are HERE! Yes, that’s right, THEY ARE HERE! How are you celebrating? Whether you are cooking, heading out of town, visiting with family, or spending a quiet day at home, you have probably thought about your plans, made the arrangements, and have already begun your preparations. So, let’s talk pre-game prep!

With Thanksgiving behind us, let’s take a minute to reflect. You wouldn’t have waited until Thanksgiving morning to decide if your family was joining you or if you were joining them. Your stress levels would certainly be affected. You also (hopefully) wouldn’t wait until the morning of a holiday party to decide who to invite, or what presents to buy for people. Same logic applies to your health and wellness goals – whether you want to try a new exercise class, create healthier habits, or improve your endurance, the level of preparation that goes into each goal can have a notable difference in your outcomes and success.

Some Prep Tips:

Identify the Purpose – What is your goal? Is the goal to walk a an extra lap around Lake Latimer? Participate in a new or more challenging exercise class? Is it to feel better? Meet new people? Create healthier habits? Impact your numbers (cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, blood sugar)? It’s important to identify the purpose or goals so you can measure your success and plan how you will achieve it!

Set Yourself Up for Success – Once you know the purpose, make sure you know what you need to accomplish it. For example, you might need to get on the treadmill or Nu-Step in the Oasis (if it’s chilly outside) and get comfortable and supportive footwear if your goal is to walk more on our grounds. If your goal is to participate in a more challenging exercise class, you will want to check out the exercise calendar and perhaps ask a friend to join you.

Review successes/opportunities – Make sure you are considering what went well, what could have gone better, and adjust for next time. Did you achieve your goals? If you did – congratulations! What was easy? What was challenging? What would you change for next time?

There are many resources and tools available to make planning for and carrying out our health and wellness goals easier. These preparation concepts can also be applied to your daily and weekly tasks to make them easier! Planning out simple things, like going to the grocery store with a list, using a to-do list for your day, or working off a schedule for the week, are easy ways to stay on track. Reach out to your Functional Pathways Therapy Team to learn more about your fitness levels, as well as how you can prepare for success!

A Little Progress Each Day Adds Up To Big Results.”