Tuesday, July 02 2019

September is Healthy Aging Month and a good time to promote awareness regarding the issues of elder depression and loneliness. AEA Continuing Ed Provider, Susan Abel Sullivan, shares a timely video that features games and themes designed to foster fun and fellowship in aquatic fitness classes.  Games and themes may not be your “thing,” but every instructor who teaches seniors should be aware of the importance of social connectedness. 
Watch Aqua Games & Themes and over 90 other videos FREE for 30 days with current AEA offer.  (New subscribers only)

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 6 million Americans over the age of 65 suffer from depression.  As lifespans increase so does social isolation.   Loneliness and poor health are leading contributors to elder depression. Older adults need social engagement with their peers just as much as anyone else.  Several studies have shown that participation in community-based exercise classes can improve senior health and boost mood. However not all classes foster success.  Older adults are more likely to stick with a group exercise program if they can do it with people their own age, a recent University of British Columbia (UBC) study has found.

The UBC study found that older adults adhere to a community-based exercise program primarily due to the social support and sense of belonging they receive in the class. UBC Kinesiology Professor, Mark Beauchamp, the study's lead author, says   "If you set the environment up so participants feel a sense of connection or belonging with these other people, then they're more likely to stick with it."

Paging Susan Abel Sullivan…

AQUA GAMES & THEMES:  VIDEO AT-A-GLANCE A self-designated "joy ambassador," Susan Abel Sullivan strives to make her classes fun, entertaining, safe, effective and interactive.  She uses costumes, music, games and props to bring people together in her classes.  Combining her love of music, dance and theatrics in her work, Susan has become well known as a “ringmaster” of themes designed to promote social interaction and fun while exercising.

Theme #1:  Summertime Game:  Aqua Hot Potato
Similar to the children’s game, hot potato, this game requires a circular formation of students who pass a ball (hot potato) along to each other.  The aqua twist here is that whoever gets caught holding the ball when the music stops gets exiled to jogging laps around the students in the circle.  Every time the music stops a new student joins the exiled runners and the lap direction is changed each time the music restarts. Since Hot Potato requires a group, pool footage of the game is not included in the video.  However, Susan did share a short video of her students playing the game.


Theme #2:  Shopping
Game #1:  Fast Food Race
Proper shopping requires a stop in the food court.  Susan uses lots of imagination and props to create a fast food race.  Small plastic food toys are placed in bins on opposite sides of the pool.   Frisbees are used as plates and students race back and forth from one wall to the other collecting food from the bins and putting it on their plate.  Whoever ends up with the most food is the winner!

Game #2:  Shopping Bag Drag Show
Well, it’s not really a drag show but plastic shopping bags are used for drag resistance.  Fill some bags with water and enjoy fun and unique fitness training.  Check out the Fitmotivation video, Aqua Plastic Bag Workout, for more ideas using plastic shopping bags. 

Theme #3:  Wedding
Game:  Ring toss
Here comes the bride!  The name of the game is ring toss and all you need is a hula-hoop and some plastic diving rings.  Basic aqua moves are performed the entire time to keep up the cardio while all has fun.

Theme #4:  Zoo
Game #1:  Dinosaur Eggs
Assigned to protect dinosaur eggs, you must transport them from one side of the pool to the other.  However, dinosaur eggs are very fragile and you can’t touch them with your hands or your body.  Ready. Set. Go! Small plastic balls or plastic eggs can be used and you will need three or four per person.  The action starts with one egg and then progresses up to four.

Game # 2:  Shark Tag
The pool is transformed into a casting call for the latest Jaws flick.  In this game, one student wears a shark hat and chases the other students around the pool.  The chaser can also hold a plastic shark and use that to tag victims.  Tagged students must go to the pool wall for push-ups and other wall activities.   Shark tag requires a group of people and therefore was not included in the pool footage.  However, Susan provided a short video clip of her students playing the game.


Game #3:  Seahorses
Aqua enthusiasts love straddling noodles and traveling around the pool doing different exercises.   Now pretend the noodles are seahorses and let the nautical adventures begin. 

Theme #5:  Broadway/Movie Music
Game #1:  Surf’s Up
Toss in some kickboards, crank up the beach music and get ready to ride the waves. Kickboards are a great way to add some creativity to your classes.  For more kickboard ideas, watch the Fitmotivation video, Kickboard Circuits. 

Game #2:  A Star(fish) is Born
The students join hands in a moving circular formation around a chosen star in this dramatic class finale.  According to Susan, this choreography formation is designed to be reminiscent of water follies movies starring Esther Williams.  The formation requires a group of students and therefore was not included in the pool footage.  However, Susan did provide a video of her students doing an amazing synchronized Starfish performance.**


Fitmotivation extends a big bouquet of red roses to leading actress, Susan Abel Sullivan, for her performance as a fun & fellowship ringmaster.  Once again, games and themes may not be your thing, but at the very least you should be aware of the role you can play in combatting elder depression.  Change starts with awareness.   And little changes that create more social connectedness can make a big difference. 

Check out Susan’s other video, Fribata, which features fitness fun and fellowship with a Frisbee!  A published author, you can check out Susan’s books at her author website.  And if you are interested in hosting AEA CEC workshops with Susan, you can contact her at her fitness website. 

Watch Aqua Games & Themes, Fribata and over 90 other videos FREE for 30 days with the current AEA offer.   This offer has been extended to October 31, 2018 and is for new subscribers only.    Thanks to all existing subscribers for your support.  It is deeply appreciated.

Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.