Mike Green, 57 years old from Houston, Texas, is a U.S. military veteran and retired police officer of 25 years who recently found a new, rewarding way to serve his community and stay healthy at the same time. By participating in the YMCA’s Enhance®Fitness program made possible by a Cigna Foundation grant, Mike has improved his health, increased his strength and endurance which opened the door for him to discover and achieve new goals.
In recognition of Mike’s milestone, this January, Mike will participate on Team Cigna in the Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend 5K. As part of Cigna’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of people at every stage and phase of life, Cigna is sending Mike and his wife to the Walt Disney WorldMarathon Weekend, an annual 4-day event that combines family, fun and physical activity, to be an ambassador for the EnhanceFitness program.
“After I retired, without a way to serve my community I felt lost. My health was also not at an optimum which added to my challenges.” Mike took three different blood pressure medications to manage high blood pressure and manages post-traumatic stress disorder, a disability from war. That’s when Mike, a longtime member of his local YMCA, decided to make his health a priority and turned to his community at the YMCA and friend, YMCA associate director, Lharrisa Jacobs, for support and ideas how to achieve his health goals.
“Earlier this year I joined the EnhanceFitness program at my YMCA provided through a Cigna Foundation grant. By keeping myself healthy, increasing my strength and endurance in the EnhanceFitness program, I’m now able to compete in community 5K runs for charity to help raise money for education scholarships and other community causes,” said Mike. He also mentors other participants in the program as a way to give back. “Through EnhanceFitness, I feel better, have more energy and have new and rewarding ways that I am able to continue serving my community.”
EnhanceFitness is a proven community-based senior fitness and arthritis management program designed to help improve health of older adults through increased physical activity and strength exercises in a fun, social environment. EnhanceFitness is nationally recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Council on Aging and several other federal agencies.
Measurable health improvements like reduced risk of chronic disease and falls are benchmarks tracked and results of the EnhanceFitness program. Mike is one of 13,569 EnhanceFitness participants.
As a result of participating in the EnhanceFitness program at the Greater Houston YMCA, Mike’s blood pressure is now within a normal, healthy range; his doctor reduced his blood pressure medication from three pills to one and Mike is no longer pre-diabetic. Mike’s improved core strength and balance empowers his independence and enables him to walk with stability and confidence across uneven ground and sidewalks without his cane, and he no longer needs to wear a brace on his left ankle. Since joining the program, he reports no falls—a marked improvement.
“The Cigna Foundation has been the stronghold for the EnhanceFitness program at the YMCA. Cigna Foundation’s support of the EnhanceFitness program along with the dedication of the YMCA instructors have helped me get to this point,” said Mike.
The Greater Houston YMCA is one of two YMCA’s in the U.S. to launch the EnhanceFitness program earlier this year as a result of a Cigna Foundation World of Difference grant. The classes are specially tailored to support health and wellbeing for older adults. This isn’t one-size-fits-all. Members are encouraged to participate at their level, and the instructors are trained to know how to support individuals’ ability levels and meet them where they are.
“The Cigna Foundation is dedicated to helping individuals live healthier, more secure lives; and for our seniors that means healthy aging through physical, mental and social well-being,” said David Figliuzzi, executive director of the Cigna Foundation. “We’re proud to partner with the ‘Y’ to help seniors in Philadelphia and Houston become more active, energized and empowered for independent living through the EnhanceFitness program.”
Mike shared, “When Lharissa invited me to participate in the 5K at Disney World on Team Cigna, I was very excited to have this opportunity. I’m looking forward to representing the YMCA and hopefully inspiring others to keep achieving your goals and discover new ones.” Mike supports other Enhance Fitness members along their journey to success.
“I tell other members, be dedicated to the program and it will be dedicated to you. Do what you can, and you will get there.”
After Mike crosses the 5K finish line in Walt Disney World, he looks forward to accomplishing new goals like running in community 5Ks to raise money for educational scholarships, and mentor other members in the EnhanceFitness program along their road to health and wellness.