Butler County Times Gazette
  • Balance classes help seniors prevent falls, injuries

  • For many seniors, staying active especially in Kansas where the summers are stiflingly hot and the winters are bitter and cold can be difficult.
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  • For many seniors, staying active especially in Kansas where the summers are stiflingly hot and the winters are bitter and cold can be difficult. Many senior centers in Butler County offer balance and exercise classes for just that reason.
    "The Senior Center is to sponsor fellowship, recreation and support for persons who have reached the age of 50," said El Dorado Senior Center Director Jennifer Zimmerman. "That includes supporting our members through education and resources to improve their quality of life and help them remain independent."
    Many seniors often do not know of the benefit of adding a 30-45 minute balance class to their busy schedules.
    "The balance classes offered are good not only for balance but also in strengthening muscles and bones," explained Connie Darnell, director of the Leon Senior Center. "Exercise has been shown to decrease the effects of diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and heart disease, which are all conditions our members are concerned about.
    "Statistics show that up to 30 percent of community-dwelling older adults fall each year and that nearly two-thirds of all falls occur around the home, usually while performing routine activities."
    In an effort to try and reduce those occurrences, senior centers are doing their best to encourage the active participation of their members in the offered classes.
    "It is important for seniors to be physically active," said Rose Hill Senior Center Director Rhonda Cooper. "We don't want the seniors to be sitting at home watching television all the time. They show up and are able to visit with their peers both before and after the class and it is nice for them to be social.
    "The program is designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels among older adults. Participants are empowered by learning to set realistic goals to increase activity, learning to assess and change their environment to reduce fall risk, and learning simple exercises to increase strength and balance."
    Many senior centers in the county offer various other exercise classes as well.
    "Not only do we offer some exercise classes," said Darnell, "but we also have exercise equipment here at the center. Some of our members choose to walk on a treadmill or ride one of the stationary bicycles. In the winter, when it's cold, we even have members who choose to walk around our building because we have a little more space than they have in their own homes."
    Regular exercise is recommended for all ages, but the senior centers in Butler County have catered specific classes for those concerned with balance-related accidents.
    "This program is especially beneficial for seniors concerned about falls, seniors who have fallen in the past, any senior who restricts their activities because of fear of falling, and any senior interested in improving flexibility, balance and strength," said Zimmerman."
    Page 2 of 2 - "When you're young, it is easier to stay active especially if your friends are doing it," explained Cooper. "With our members, it is the same way. As they get older, they're more inclined to be active if their friends are involved and sometimes that is the hardest part."
    For more information on balance or exercise classes, contact your local senior center.
    Kari Adams can be reached at kadams@butlercountytimesgazette.com.

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