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TAOA seniors start the day with a Hula Fitness class

Director of Territorial Administration of Aging Evelyn Lili’o-Satele with Hula Fitness instructor Vatau Galeai and the band, which plays for the Hula fitness class. The hula class is from Monday to Thursday, at 7:30am to 8:30am. [photo: Ese Malala]Some of the senior citizens of TAOA enjoying doing the hula as their fitness workout yesterday morning at the TAOA compound in Pago Pago. One of TAOA's focus is health to help promote the importance of living healthy and staying active. [photo: Ese Malala]

Exercise is important at any age, but as you get older, regularly exercising has a powerful effect; and to that thought, the Director of Territorial Administration on Aging (TAOA) Evelyn Lili’o-Satele has included a Hula Fitness class to the TAOA program. “One of our focuses is health and happiness so we have added the hula fitness because we want to build up activities to offer to our seniors…” she told Samoa News in an interview.

The TAOA director added, “Also physical education is a must in our program — we want to promote health to lower blood pressure, and any incidents of diabetes.”

The Hula fitness started two weeks ago, and it is held at the TAOA compound in Pago Pago. When the seniors get to work they start their day by joining Vatau Galea’i, who is their instructor for the hula exercise.

“When Evelyn asked me to come teach hula to the seniors, I was happy she asked me, because I do want to help. I’ve performed and taught hula for many years, so I was ready to teach it again especially as a workout for the seniors,” Galeai told Samoa News.

According to DOH Official, starting or maintaining a regular exercise routine can be a challenge at any age, and it doesn’t get any easier as you get older. You may feel discouraged by health problems, aches and pains, or concerns about injuries or falls or maybe just think that exercise is boring but exercising regularly has a great effect.

She said that becoming more active can energize your mood, relieve stress, help you manage symptoms of illness and pain, and improve your overall sense of well-being. And it doesn’t have to be strenuous workouts or going to the gym, it’s just about adding movements and activities to your life even in small ways.

Hula Fitness instructor Galea'i added by saying,  "Hula fitness is inspired by the dances of the Pacific Islands, which is easy to follow for all ages and fitness levels. But getting active is not just about adding years to your life; it’s about adding life to your years."

The senior citizens are from 50 years old and up.

Some of the senior citizens told Samoa News that they are thankful for this opportunity to exercise. Given only 30 minutes to workout, most of the seniors enjoy it so much they want to keep exercising for at least more than an hour. A male senior citizen says he now looks forward to coming to work to exercise because it makes him do his work better throughout the day.

Another female senior citizen said, “I get more energy from our hula class and I feel like I am young again.”

Lili’o-Satele said an average of 50 seniors participate in the hula fitness class in the morning at 7:30a.m. “We have different groups of seniors that join us for the hula class, some are not workers — so it is open to everyone because we want to keep them moving and active.”

The TAOA director noted that originally it was supposed to be only Mondays and Thursdays, but the senior citizens have enjoyed it a lot and they have extended it to Monday to Thursdays.

A TAOA employee said, “This is a wonderful thing for the seniors, because not only does it keep them moving, but it has opened up more opportunities for jobs to other seniors like the band. Our hula fitness has given some of the seniors the chance to play instruments and sing for our hula fitness class.”

The TAOA Director also said, “I am anxious to have a part-time nurse to do the vitals and show the benefits of exercise.”

The employment program TAOA has to offer is for them to work for 4 years and it prepares them to work in an unsubsidized position in the community.

There are many seniors with so much talent, so the program is opened for them to work and use their talents in weaving, carving, cooking, entertaining guests and visitors, Lili’o-Satele told Samoa News.

Late last year TAOA opened a handicraft shop for them to showcase and sell what they have made.

TAOA is open to the public, and Lili’o-Satele invites all to come and visit and learn from amazing talented seniors, who still have the culture and the faaSamoa lifestyle instilled in them or even to join the hula fitness class.

“We always look at our children as our future but we must look at our seniors at our past to see where they’ve been, why we are here and who we are today,” she said.

TAOA has many programs to offer for seniors and is aiming to have a larger center to accommodate many other seniors out there, the TAOA director said.