Exercise shows results for Marion seniors
“You’re doing great, now this is the final set.”
Aaron Swank’s and Tristen Cope’s voices cut through the music as they eased participants through Thursday’s Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program at Marion Senior Center.
Kansas State University Research and Extension sponsors the exercise program, splitting it into 16 1-hour sessions, held twice a week.
According to Cope, changes can be seen after a few weeks.
“At the halfway point, participants are starting to notice results,” she said. “They’re saying, ‘I was able to get off the couch and didn’t even have to use my hands.’”
When Cope taught the program in Goessel, one participant improved so much, after five weeks she no longer needed a walker.
“It’s fun hearing others’ personal success stories, and the pride they take in becoming healthier and stronger,” Cope said.
Stay Strong, Stay Healthy gave senior center president Sue Clough the ability to clean the center while feeling less pain, she said.
“I vacuum down here and that’s been easier for me,” she said. “For a while, I was struggling with my right arm. I have carpel tunnel issues, but this seems to have helped with that.”
Harvey County employee Swank joined Cope after recently receiving his certification to lead the program. Many of the exercises utilize lengthening muscles slowly, which works the muscles at a more even keel.
“A great deal of contraction and work of the muscle actually happens in the extension of the muscle,” he said.
Exercises are chosen for the function they serve in everyday life. “A lot of the lower body stuff helps with balance and coordination to reduce the risk of falls,” he said.
For Clough, the leg exercises decreased the pain when getting out of the car. “It really helps me when I travel,” she said. “We old people have trouble with our knees.”
Cope and Swank are applying for grant money to get their own equipment. The Extension office has two sets available, but it limits scheduling options.
Finding the right time of year is important to make sure the program gets enough people.
“You wouldn’t want to do one over the holiday season,” Cope said. “You also have to be careful about anything starting in January because of the weather conditions.”
Participation for the current schedule fluctuates between eight and 12 members, but no member has dropped the class.
“It’s good when we exercise together,” Clough said. “You just don’t do it enough by yourself. It’s good to have a leader, and everyone has stuck with it.”
Last modified Oct. 18, 2018