Three days a week, a group of 18 older adults participate in an exercise program at the Inter-Lakes Senior Center in Meredith, N.H. For an hour each day, seniors ranging in age from 60 to 86 stretch, strengthen and tone while enhancing balance, bone density and cardiovascular endurance.
“Their doctors are thrilled,” says Becky Carey, the senior center’s director. “Their blood pressure is down, and they’re feeling better. The results have been incredible.”
The Center for Active Living and Healthy Communities teamed with Inter-Lakes in 2008 to create exercise, dance and nutrition-education programs for the Meredith center. CALHC director Barbara McCahan helped Inter-Lakes develop the programs and trained the senior center’s volunteers to run them with help from Plymouth State University undergraduate interns. McCahan also offers Inter-Lakes ongoing consulting on program improvement.
In the exercise program, participants use stairs, weights, exercise balls and stretch bands in a quest to maintain active lifestyles during their later years. And twice a year, the seniors participate in CALHC fitness research on the Plymouth State campus.
“The college kids are surprised how well the seniors do with exercise,” Carey says. Each semester, Inter-Lakes Seniors also participate as volunteers for a number of student projects and activities associated with courses such as Physical Activity and Aging, Inclusive Physical Activity Programs and Psychosocial Aspects of Physical Activity Behavior. Says McCahan, “It is a beautifully collaborative relationship that we have with the Inter-Lakes Seniors; they truly provide rich learning opportunities for our future physical activity practitioners!”.