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Bea Ingram just celebrated her 90th birthday and credits her good health to her three times a week Aquafit classes, along with the social network she has made through her local community centre. 

Ingram moved to the Okanagan with her husband after retiring, built a house and was looking for something in the way of entertainment.

“Some friends approached us and said, ‘Why don’t you come to the Y’,” says Ingram. “So we started going every week, three times a week. That was in 1981. I was 53 years-old, and I have been going ever since.”

“I just loved it! It was something nice to do, I made a lot of new friends, it was rewarding and kept me in shape,” Ingram says.

Ingram has become an inspiration to many, having attended nearly 4,440 Aquafit classes since her first in 1981. 

“Lots of people have told me over the years that I am an inspiration to them. It makes me feel great that they think that,” Ingram says.

Always eager to lend a hand, Ingram is humbled by the support and admiration she receives from others at her local community centre.

“I celebrated my 90th at the YMCA with many of the people I’ve met there,” says Ingram. “They gave me a really nice party. I have made nine or 10 friends in the classes and whenever one of us has a birthday, we take her out to lunch at one of the nice restaurants. We have become good friends.”

When asked what advice she would give to anyone considering a group class or new activity, Ingram had wise words to impart.

“It is important to be active throughout life,” exclaims Ingram. “I probably wouldn’t be here or be in the shape I’m in if I had not been enjoying the exercise and social atmosphere of the Y all these years.”

“Anybody that has an inkling that they want to come to the Y, I would really encourage them as it is probably the smartest thing they will ever do,” says Ingram.

March has been deemed Embrace Aging Month in the Okanagan — providing an opportunity for community members and organizations to share resources and education to promote healthy living as we age. 

According to the Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention, older adults are living longer, yet many seniors suffer from at least one chronic disease. 

As a local charity devoted to building a healthier community, the YMCA of Okanagan is determined to improve this issue and is encouraging adults and older adults in our community to stay active and reach out to a supportive network. Recommend programs for older adults include Breathe Well, Healthy Hearts, Healthy Hips and Knees, Mingle Mondays and pool activities including pool walking. 

For more information about these, and other programs offered at three convenient YMCA operated facilities in Kelowna, visit ymcaokanagan.ca or call 250-491-9622.