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Active seniors seek fitness, balance

Residents at The Deerfield senior living community in New Richmond may be older adults, but that doesn't mean they're not active.

Almost every day of the week, the local facility conducts fitness, balance and yoga classes for residents to participate in. Each class attracts a good number of folks who remain active in their old age.

Peggy Mulvaney, 94, said she takes part in classes four times per week.

"I have to keep moving, my daughter says, because she's a physical therapist," she said with a smile. "I enjoy it."

She said the fitness and yoga sessions are fun, and the balance sessions help residents avoid falls and broken bones.

"Balance - that's the most important," she said.

June Capelle, who selected three-pound weights for her fitness regimen, said she attends regularly because the classes are enjoyable and she gets to socialize with other residents.

"It's good for you," she said. "It keeps you young, and it keeps you alive."

Cassie Pojanowski, one of the instructors with Presbyterian Homes who visits New Richmond regularly, said residents are more and more aware that they need to stay active to maintain their overall health.

"It's a quality of life issue," she said. "Exercise keeps older adults healthier, and it keeps them happier. And it helps to reduce the onset of dementia."

A typical fitness class opens with warm-up exercises, Pojanowski said. That's followed by a cardio workout, then some strength exercises. After a half-hour of fitness, the group moves into the balance class, which uses yoga and Tia Chi techniques to help relax participants and improve their balance.

"Most of all, the class needs to be fun," she noted. "Smiles on the faces is always good."

Jackie Waalen, activities director with The Deerfield, said the senior facility schedules classes for residents for a number of reasons.

"We have an initiative at the Deerfield to have six falls or less in our entire community," she said. "We try to provide daily balance, mind, body and spirit and fitness classes to increase endurance and prevent falls."

Each resident is challenged to participate in fitness activities at least three times per week, Waalen said.

"We measure the percent of independent living residents who participate in different forms of physical wellness," she said. "Our standard is 65 percent participation at least three times per week and we motivate the residents to reach our best practice standard of at least 75 percent participation."

The Deerfield also promotes educational and social classes to enhance the broader scope of each resident's "wellness wheel of health."

Among additional classes is a three-hour course "Living with Chronic Illnesses" taught by a volunteer. The Deerfield's chaplain leads a LITE group (Living In Transititions Everyday) monthly.

"So, besides fitness we want to make sure our residents are healthy in all areas of wellness; spiritual, emotional, social, etc.," Waalen said.

The Deerfield is planning on offering a balance class for the general public on March 29. Look for further details in the New Richmond News.

"Deerfield hires specially trained wellness and fitness staff to design programs that reach exercise desires of our residents," Waalen said. "This is one reason why we have initiated the class on March 29 to reach out to the community on helping all older adults in our area benefit from our fitness staff's expertise. We are excited to promote more educational and wellness classes to the broader community."