"I enjoy it all because it keeps you moving," Howell said about the water aerobics class, which she attends Monday through Friday with her daughter Nan Collier. "It's great for your body. It keeps you from sitting in a chair all the time, because you see I'm old and all my friends sit in a chair. Most of my friends, I don't know of any that do the things I do.
"I [also] walk a lot around my neighborhood. I used to drive to Kennesaw Mountain, but see I'm past that now."
Attending the water aerobics class for the past 40 years, Howell -- affectionately referred to by many as "Mama Dell" -- has benefited greatly by its opportunity to socialize and remain active. Among other things, she credits the class for helping arthritis in her back and leg dissipate.
"She outdoes us all," Collier said. "She's such an inspiration to all of us. We have new people come in all the time that say, 'And she's how old?' There's some days that people say they can't even keep up with [her]. ... She keeps up with people [one-fourth] her age. We have some 20-year-olds in here that can't keep up with Mama Dell."
In observation of the 18th annual National Senior Health & Fitness Day, about 100,000 senior adults are expected to engage in physical activities across the country today. While there are no organized events scheduled in Bartow County, representatives of the health promotion event encourage area residents to start and/or maintain a healthy lifestyle, urging them to check out the National Institute on Aging's Go4Life website.
According to www.go4life.niapublications.org, "Go4Life, an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, is designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life. Motivating older adults to become physically active for the first time, return to exercise after a break in their routines, or build more exercise and physical activity into weekly routines are the essential elements of Go4Life.
"Go4Life offers exercises, motivational tips and free resources to help you get ready, start exercising and keep going. The Go4Life campaign includes an evidence-based exercise guide in both English and Spanish, an exercise video, an interactive website and a national outreach campaign."
The website also reports that exercise provides numerous benefits for older adults, such as fitness "can help maintain and improve your physical strength and fitness; can help improve your ability to do the everyday things you want to do; can help improve your balance; can help manage and improve diseases like diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis; can help reduce feelings of depression and may improve mood and overall well-being; and may improve your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity and ignore irrelevant information."
Echoing Go4Life's mission, Howell also encourages senior adults to stay active -- "Be active. Don't sit down all the time. [It is important to] be interested in something besides yourself."