Lee Seniors Having Fun With Wii


(Wednesday, April 23, 2008 5:46 AM EDT)

It's not every day you see two women in their golden years boxing each other, but recently at the Lee Senior Center, that's what you would have witnessed - though it's probably not exactly what you're envisioning.

In an introduction to Nintendo Wii (pronounced “wee”) class offered at the center, seniors learned the basics of the system and played sports games including bowling, tennis and, what seemed to be Carolyn Bainer and Mary Wuest's favorite, boxing.

“It's fun, especially with a group,” Bainer said.

The Lee Senior Center stresses successful aging, and “a big component of this is finding things that are mentally, socially and physically stimulating,” said center supervisor Karen O'Brien. “Wii meets several of those components,” she said.

The center is always trying to offer more brain health and fitness activities, O'Brien said. “Wii offers both the physical and mental [benefits]. As long as they're able to walk or stand up, they can play.”

Though getting used to the system, which requires actual physical movement by the player to produce the action pictured onscreen, was challenging at times, it seemed that the seniors not only had lots of fun, but recognized the benefits that could come from playing regularly.

“I think it's going to be good for body and mind, both,” said Fran Stamm, who is thinking of buying a Wii to share with her grandchildren. “I don't play tennis anymore. It's fun to make believe I'm playing without the running.”

“I like it because it really simulates movement,” Bainer said.

Bainer is particularly interested in trying one of the dancing games, so she can work out at home if she wants to.

“If I don't want to go to the Thomas Jefferson Community Center [to exercise], I'd have something else to do,” she said.

The Lee Center staff were pleased that the turnout for the newly offered class was larger than expected, and hope it will become a regularly offered activity.

“We could grow by having weekly games and tournaments,” O'Brien said. “And it could be inter-generational. The seniors could bring their grandchildren.”

And if a Wii bowling league were to come together, the Lee Center staff already have thought of a perfect team name.

“They could be the Lee Wiis!” said program assistant Myrna Manolis.

For more information on programs offered at the Lee Senior Center, call (703) 228-0555.

Carolyn Bainer and Mary Wuest give boxing a try at an introduction to Wii at the Lee Senior Center.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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