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Keeping moving is key during winter months

December 16, 2010
By MIKE HUGHES, Prime Times

THE BENEFITS of a regular exercise regiment are too numerous and well known to list.

A body in motion is healthier than one not in motion. It's a fact that is paramount for the senior community.

The human body gradually starts to deteriorate as it grows older and without the addition of exercise to keep the body on its toes, so to speak, that deterioration will run its course unchecked.

Whether you're sprinting, rock climbing, rowing or even taking a leisurely stroll around the park, any exercise is good exercise.

But during the cold winter months, when that same leisurely stroll becomes a strenuous trek through the blistering cold and snow, an alternative plan is needed.

Fortunately for seniors in the Ohio Valley, there are more than few options to burn a few calories without suffering frostbite in the process.

Low impact/High benefits

High impact exercise can send your pulse racing into the coveted target-heart rate range and build up a good sweat in the process. But it's not for everyone.

For those seniors looking to the benefits of exercise without intensity of high impact, there are plenty of low-impact alternatives that will still prove beneficial.

Look no further than your local YMCA.

The 'Y' in the Elm Grove section of Wheeling offers programs targeted specifically at senior citizens, namely their Aquacise and Silver Plash programs.

Jill Paul from the J.B. Chambers YMCA helps run some of the classes offered at the facility.

''It helps to improve agility, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance and is available for both members and non-members,'' Paul said. ''Since it's in shallow water, you don't even have to know how to swim.

''I think a lot of people feel that because it's in the water, it's an easy routine, but that's not the case. It's a good workout.''

Participants will also used a specially designed kickboard that helps to develop strength, balance and coordination.

Paul explained there have been stroke patients and even seniors who had to utilize a wheelchair for mobility have taken the class and experienced success.

The Silver Sneakers program held in the gym utilizes hand-held weights, elastic bands and stability balls. There are also chairs that participants can sit and exercise from or stand, depending on your preference.

''You work a varied range of motion,'' Paul said.

The YMCA also offers a yoga stretch class.

But that's just one facility. There are many others available throughout the Ohio Valley. But the central theme is always the same ... get up. Get moving. Keep active.

St. Clairsville Recreation Department recently began offering Mover'cise classes on Tuesday and Thursdays. The same class is also offered at Family Services of the Upper Ohio Valley in Wheeling on Tuesdays and the Ohio Valley Mall community room on Mondays.

The class is a half-hour in length and designed for both men and women in the over-50 crowd. Founder and lead instructor Kathleen O'Connor helps each class participant decide what he/she is capable of doing, whether moving from a standing or seated position. As O'Connor explained, there is no wrong move in Mover'cise. The moving itself is the key.

There are classes on tai-chi to be taken. A lot of the senior centers in Belmont County have activities geared toward exercise, for example, the chair volleyball that has become extremely popular at the Bellaire Senior Center.

For those with a little extra income, a membership to a gym or fitness center affords a multitude of opportunities for indoor exercise during the cold winter months. But a membership isn't necessary.

For a few dollars, seniors can purchase a few light, hand-held weights and work out in the privacy of their own homes.

Hughes may be reached at



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