Fit through motion
Program takes preventative approach to what ails the aging
Forming a circle inside a high school gymnasium, a group of women move rhythmically to the sounds of Boney M’s disco hit “Daddy Cool.”
Many of them are of the age such that in the mid-1970s, they may have been spotted dancing at clubs to the same song. In this case though, moving along to the four-on-the-floor beat is not just about having a good time.
The Local Motion group meets every Monday evening at Crescent Collegiate in Blaketown. Its goal is to educate, motivate and encourage participants to stay fit and lead a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid chronic diseases and other health issues commonly associated with aging.
“Prevention is a lot better than trying to find a cure afterwards,” notes Betty Jones, a co-leader of the group.
Jones and Cynthia Russell have jointly led the group as volunteers ever since it first started in 2005. They both completed a one-day Eastern Health training course through the Moving for Health initiative. The Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging at Western University later provided them with further training relevant to cardio fitness. Jones and Russell also learned about activities to promote endurance, flexibility, balance and strength.
them about things to consider when it comes to those habits.
The size of the group has varied over the years, with as many as 25 participants getting involved. Attendance usually picks up after Christmas once people start acting on New Years resolutions. These days, you can find about a dozen women inside the gymnasium when the session starts at 6:30 p.m., with participants ranging in age from 50 to 84.
“We tell everyone to do it at their own pace,” said Russell, adding that they discourage people from taking on a competitive attitude towards the activities.
The program has made a difference in the lives of others. But that doesn’t happen without some hard work.
“You have to be consistent,” said Russell. “If you just say you’re coming because you’ve got a wedding next month, that’s not going to work for you. It’s a commitment.”
The fact that there’s a sense of camaraderie within the group helps when it comes to encouraging people to keep coming back, according to Jones.
See “I always say to people, ‘Come along … We can only guarantee you will feel better when you leave than you did when you came,’” said Russell, who also notes similar groups are meeting in Norman’s Cove and Harbour Grace.
They do some warm up activities as a group, starting with a walk before getting into different movements and stretches to increase cardiovascular health. They move on to a cool down activity, followed by floor exercises that utilize a flexible band to pull against your own body weight as a means to increase strength.
Russell notes that exercise is proven to be particularly effective when it comes to combating the effects of arthritis by strengthening ligaments and joints in the body.
“We try and do the education bit when we’ve got them in our group and about how walking just lowers your blood pressure,” she said.
They also promote healthy eating and have encouraged group members to use eating diaries to track what they consume, afterwards talking with
Betty Jones, second from the left, and Cynthia Russell, far right, co-lead the Local Motion group that meets Monday evenings at Crescent Collegiate in Blaketown.