Chronic diseases and chronic pain is not a normal part of aging! Yet this is the reality for so many of our older adults in Mooresville, North Carolina. The Mooresville Parks and Recreation Department sought to change this narrative by partnering with a local senior center to help build strong, healthy and happy older adults. Thanks to a training grant from the National Recreation and Park Association’s Healthy Aging in Parks Initiative, older adults in Mooresville now have the power to be agents of change to become active and fit by participating in an evidence-based physical activity program, Fit & Strong!
Our motivated participants are led twice a week for 12 weeks by certified staff instructors. During the 90-minute class, participants engage in 60 minutes of warm-up and cool-down exercises and flexibility, strength and resistance training exercises completed using elastic exercise bands and ankle cuff weights. In addition to the 60 minutes of physical activity, each class includes 30 minutes of group discussions to motivate participants to continue striving for their physical activity goals at home. The great thing about this program is that is teaches adults with joint pain and stiffness how to engage in safe and effective physical activity.
The success stories have been overwhelming! For many it is about improving their quality of life. Ms. Lucy has arthritis and has had two knee replacements. “I am so glad this class is being offered. I still use my walking cane, but because of the Fit & Strong! class my balance has improved.”
Ms. Marilyn who has osteoporosis stated, “I had wide spread muscular pain but since participating in the class, my pain is going away, and I am more flexible.” Even Mrs. Dorothy’s healthcare provider was impressed with her progress. According to Mrs. Dorothy, “At my doctor's visit, my doctor asked me if I could bend down and touch my toes. When my doctor saw me touching my toes, his eyes lit up! He asked what I had been doing and I told him that I participate in the Fit & Strong! classes offered by the local recreation department. He was happy for me because I have not been able to touch my toes in a long time!”
For others it is simply about being able to enjoy time with their grandkids. “I did not want to get out of my warm bed,” stated Mrs. Stewart. “However, my sister and daughter encouraged me to participate in this class. I have a great grandson to keep up with! I feel good when I leave this class.”
The Fit & Strong! program has restored so much confidence in our older adults. We want all older adults in Mooresville to know that they can improve their quality of life by participating in programs like Fit & Strong!
Barbara Johnson is a Recreation Center Supervisor for Mooresville Parks and Recreation.