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THE GREAT OUTDOORS / GETTING ACTIVE BY LAND

Activities Keep Some Feeling Young at Heart

Seniors: Whether walking, swimming, playing volleyball or tennis, there's plenty to keep the silver set busy.

June 26, 1996|MELANIE NEFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Shuffleboard?

Ho hum.

Checkers?

Gimme a break.

Well, how about softball, tennis and volleyball?

Orange County seniors can choose from among a wide variety of activities. Senior centers offer summer outdoor activities for everyone's taste, whether looking to get some exercise or socialize.

"This is the way the world goes now," said Nancy Herrmann, community services supervisor at the Mission Viejo Recreation Center. "Everything is so outdoor-oriented in Southern California and people are much more health conscious. We need to be aware of the choices available out there for seniors today. Many don't realize what is available. "

For those not interested in lawn bowling, croquet or horseshoes, information on skydiving, bungee jumping or mountain climbing lessons is as close as the nearest Yellow Pages. For people looking to get outdoors, exercise and make new friends, help is only a phone call to the local senior or community center away.

Most cities now have recreation centers with planned outdoor activities for seniors and are getting bigger and more popular each day, Herrmann says. Activities are expanding, giving people choices from light exercise to competitive team sports.

"People today are more active than ever," Herrmann said. "As people become seniors they will start to look for more activities that fit their lifestyle. They want to continue what they have been doing, but it may be necessary for them to decrease the level a bit."

One of the most popular organized trends throughout the county, is walking. Large groups get together a few times a week and walk. It's a good workout and enables people to socialize.

In Corona del Mar walkers get together every Friday morning for a three-mile trek. Some days they carpool to different areas to vary the routes. In Mission Viejo, seniors walk Wednesday mornings in Oso Park.

"It has the ambience of a natural setting," Herrmann said. "There is a creek that runs through the park and it makes for a very beautiful, pleasant setting."

For seniors who want to stay indoors, numerous malls throughout the county open their doors early, enabling walkers to window shop while they walk.

Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, Brea and the Mall of Orange, are open for early morning walks. They are available seven days a week, with no charge and most offer discounts in mall stores, as well as prizes for regular walkers. On occasion, guest speakers on health and nutrition visit.

"Although it's opened up to everyone, over 85% of the participants are seniors," said Jennifer Toth, the organizer for the Mall of Orange. "We have over 500 people signed up, but we get anywhere from 30 to 70 a day."

As the temperatures rise, so does the urge to get in the pool and cool down. Swimming classes are available at recreation centers throughout the county, as well as aqua aerobics. Corona del Mar, Huntington Beach and Mission Viejo are among cities that offer water activities.

"Water aerobics give me a lot of exercise and I don't have to worry about falling down," joked Huntington Beach resident Mary Robart, 73. "I have always loved the water and this lets me enjoy the water and work out at the same time."

Team sports are also popping up all over the county. Softball and volleyball leagues are available for seniors looking for the competitive spirit.

In Fullerton, Pat Trotter boasts two volleyball teams that compete with teams around Southern California, including Tustin, Buena Park and Cerritos. Rick Jennings, who organizes volleyball leagues around the county, coordinates the league for the county's senior centers. Trotter hopes they will be able to include more teams this year.

"We have two different levels," Trotter said. "There is one for those just interested in getting exercise and then we have a higher level for those who play competitively and still are active players."

Corona del Mar has one of the larger senior centers in the county and offers everything from tennis to swimming, to oh yeah, shuffleboard.

Seniors can get together from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to play tennis at a nearby park. Or they can play shuffleboard at 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays.

No matter what activity you're looking for, no matter what age or physical ability, it's out there. Local senior centers or city recreation departments have the information to find the activity that appeals to you.

Most centers welcome families or out-of-town visitors and the cost is usually minimal, if any.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Senior Centers in Orange County

* ANAHEIM

Anaheim Independencia

10841 Garza

821-0460

Anaheim Senior Center

280 E. Lincoln

533-1981

Brookhurst Senior Center

2271 W. Crescent

535-8210

* BREA

Brea Senior Center

500 S. Sievers St.

990-7754

* BUENA PARK

Buena Park Senior Center

8150 Knott Ave.

562-3898

* CORONA DEL MAR

Oasis Senior Center

800 Marguerite

644-3244

* COSTA MESA

Costa Mesa Senior Center

695 W. 19th St.

645-2356

Jewish Community Center

250 E. Baker

755-0340

* CYPRESS

Cypress Senior Center

9031 Grindlay

229-6776

* DANA POINT

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