in Shape celebrates 1st anniversary
The Seniors in Shape program sponsored by St. Mary’s Hospital will celebrate its one year anniversary this week. This program is designed specifically for senior citizens to increase their strength and balance, to decrease the risk of falling, to enhance independence and confidence and to enable them to become more physically fit. The first class was held on Tuesday, November 22, 2011.
Trained volunteers, Shelli Schumacher and Annabelle Gonzales, have been facilitating the class for the past year which includes the use of resistance bands and other specially designed exercises to help improve posture, increase gait speed, improve stability and reduce the risk of falling.
“My mom benefitted greatly from a similar class,” said Schumacher who along with Gonzales completed a day long ‘Fit and Fall’ training program which was offered by the Department of Health and Welfare. “I wanted to see a series of classes for our local folks regardless of age, gender and physical ability, so I thought what the heck, I will become an instructor.”
Kyle Westhoff, Physical Therapist from SMH attended the class on November 15th and explained to the participants why they were doing the exercises they were and what benefits they received from doing the exercises.
“The reason the marching and leg lifts are good is because they help to keep you from shuffling your feet and falling,” commented Westhoff. “And doing some of the exercises with your eyes closed helps with your balance. There are three components to balance; what you see, what you feel and the balance center in your inner ear. When your eyes are closed that increases your other two senses.”
Westhoff also explained the benefit of warming up the muscles before doing the more intense exercises. “Just think of a gummy worm that is left in a nice warm car and how far you could stretch it, and then think of one that was left in a cold car; it won’t stretch at all; muscles are very similar. Walking is a good way to warm up your muscles. Also taking a nice warm shower has the same effect on those who have arthritis; the warm water helps those muscles to stretch.”
On an average there are about 20 to 25 people who attend each class and they range in age from 53 to 88. The exercises vary from walking and stretching, to doing some of the more fun ones like; the chair dance, muscle man, and rock the baby.
“I love the class, it has made a big difference in how I feel and I even sleep better,” commented one of the participants. “My balance is so much better, I don’t worry about falling like I used,” comment another. And yet another said “I can’t believe how much it has helped, I wasn’t able to lift my arm above my head and now I can.”
The classes are offered every Monday and Thursday from 9:30am to 10:30am in the Cottonwood Community Hall. Anyone who is interested is invited to attend a class to see if it would be a good fit for them. The cost is only $5.00 a month which helps offset the power bill for the hall. If you have any questions concerning the classes Schumacher can be reached at 962-5371.
Instructors; Shelli Schumacher and AnnaBelle Gonzales along with Physical Therapist; Kyle Westhoff took a break from exercising to pose with the Seniors In Shape Class.