Even when the weather outside turns frightful, area residents don't have to hibernate this winter.
Chautauqua County residents are provided with a wealth of opportunities to stay physically active throughout the winter season.
According to Meg Pickard, Jamestown YMCA wellness director, exercise is a key factor to staying healthy through the cold season.
Area residents are pictured enjoying a winter hike at Audubon.
"A huge danger in the winter, especially when you live in the North East where there is a lot of snowfall, is heart attacks resulting from shoveling," said Pickard. "So, if people don't stay active on a regular basis and they go out to do that one-time major workload during a heavy snow, that's when a heart attack could result. If they stay active on a regular basis by coming into the gym, doing cardiovascular workout and some strength training, they are much less likely to have a major event such as a heart attack, muscle soreness or fatigue, because they are already conditioned for that exercise. But, it's also important to improve agility and balance so if they slip and fall they don't get seriously hurt."
Many group exercise opportunities at the YMCA are included in membership. Those who don't have a membership with the YMCA, however, can still utilize the facility and group exercise opportunities by paying per class or purchasing an aerobic package.
Some examples of classes include Zumba, indoor cycling, water exercise, pilates, yoga and kickboxing.
"Water exercise is a class and not swimming lessons," said Pickard. "You use the water as resistance. You have water weights, water bands and water belts. Getting in a warm pool is very good for people with arthritis, osteoporosis and other people who are looking for a gentler workout that's not going to have as much impact. But, it can be as intense as you want it to be."
For those looking to spend a little more time in the outdoors exploring nature, the Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary stays open to offer seasonal programming. There will be two Hike with a Naturalist programs scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 27, and Saturday, Dec. 29. The programs are two hours long and range from mile to a mile and a half.
According to Katie Finch, Audubon naturalist and volunteer coordinator, a naturalist's job is to connect or reconnect people with nature.
"This time a year a lot of people can stay closed up inside because it's cold outside," said Finch. "But, the hikes are a great chance to see what's going on outside in the natural world during this time of year. Make sure to dress appropriately for the weather because we will go out in all weather except lightning or a heavy downpour. The hikes are a guided tour of the surrounding area and grounds of the Audubon Center."
Those who wish to venture out into the wild on their own can enjoy the Audubon's trails from dawn until dusk. There are about 5 miles of trails available that go through various habitats such as wetlands, ponds, fields and hemlock woods.
The Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary is located at 1600 Riverside Road. For more information call 569-2345 or visit jamestownaudubon.org.
The holidays provide a great opportunity to spend some quality time with the family, and there are many options to do so at Jamestown Savings Bank Arena.
According to Randi Hietman, guest service manager for Jamestown Savings Bank Arena, staying active during winter is important for its health benefits and also to encourage spending time together as a family during the holidays.
"In this day and age it's important to stay healthy, and if you don't have somewhere to go to be fit it's really easy to just sit at home and not do anything," said Hietman. "So, we try to have a facility that offers things that you enjoy doing to stay active by yourself or with your family."
The arena hosts drop-in hockey for children and adults Monday through Friday from noon to 2 p.m. Players should bring their own equipment. Also, public skating is available for children and families. Because the hours vary for the program those interested can contact the arena via phone or visit the website schedule of events. And, in addition to the public skating, the arena also hosts themed-skating events that are geared toward families. There are two events scheduled in December including Santa Skate on Sunday, Dec. 16, from 3 to 5 p.m. and New Year's Eve Skate on Monday, Dec. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m. During Santa Skate children will meet with Santa, have candy canes and be able to donate to Toys For Tots. The New Year's Eve skate will feature a countdown at 8 p.m. so that children and parents don't have to stay up until midnight.
In addition to having an indoor walking and running track available year round, and an Opti-Golf machine for adults to work on their swing, the arena also has a weight room and a high-energy fitness express class on Sundays.
Jamestown Savings Bank Arena is located at 319 W. Third St. For more information call 484-2624 or visit jamestownsavingsbankicearena.com.
The YMCA also offers senior-specific classes; which, according to Pickard, come in handy during the winter.
"Chautauqua County holds the title of having the most deaths as a result of a fall in the U.S. per capita for the age group of 70 and above," said Pickard. "And, we're No. 2 for falls per capita for the age group of 70 and above with more than 20 EMS calls for falls per day. So, that's why the Center for Disease Control funded us to offer the Moving for Better Balance program. The program is loosely based on a highly modified version of Tai Chi, which is a Chinese martial art. The program hit it out of the ballpark because normally when (the CDC) does research it is looking for a 15 to 20 percent improvement, and with the Moving for Better Balance program, it saw a 55 percent improvement in a 26-week period of time. So, it's really beneficial to that older adult population that is in fear of falling because they have before themselves or know someone who has been seriously injured as a result. Even if you don't die from a fall, you can still experience serious quality of life changes including that they may lose their independence."
The Jamestown YMCA is located at 101 E. Fourth St. For more information call 664-2802 or visit jamestownymca.org.