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Senior Citizens Have Options for Physical Fitness

February 23, 2012
By J.W. JOHNSON JR. - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

In an effort to promote physical activity and fitness among senior citizens, local gyms and fitness clubs offer special programs targeted at the age group.

At Ohio University Eastern's Health and Education Center, seniors have the chance to participate in the Silver Sneakers program, which give them the opportunity to become full members of the gym without out-of-pocket costs. E.J. Schodzinski, director of the center, said the program is available to anyone as long as the program is covered by their supplemental health insurance.

"Silver Sneakers is a perfect fit for our local community demographically as our retirement-age population continues to grow," he said. "The Silver Sneakers administration has informed me that there are several thousand senior citizens who are already eligible for the program that live within a 10-mile radius of Ohio University Eastern."

Article Photos

Photo Provided
Carl and Dorothy Smith of Barnesville work out at the Ohio University Eastern Campus Health and Education Center, which offers programs specifically for senior citizens.

Schodzinski said the program, which meets twice a week, focuses on life skills and incorporates everyday tasks into the workout. Following a warmup, participants take part in rhythmic range of movement stretching, work and cool-down exercises, followed by a final stretch and relaxation period. Some of that work simulates tasks such as grip strength for opening jars and lifting exercises that simulate picking up a grandchild.

"Silver Sneakers classes are appropriate for individuals who are fit and active, as well as those who are sedentary and unfamiliar with exercise, or entering post-rehab," Schodzinski said. "Our instructors are nationally certified and trained to provide positive instruction in a nurturing social environment."

The class also focuses on exercises that increase strength, agility, balance and coordination. Schodzinski said in addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle and improving the quality of life for participants, the program also allows for individuals to be a part of something.

Fact Box

Q: How can seniors stay physically fit?

A: Just like everyone else, through proper diet and exercise. Programs such as the Silver Sneakers initiative allow supplemental health insurance to cover the cost of joining a gym.

"Our message is a simple one," he said. "We want folks of all ages to know that they can get fit, have fun and make friends while they are exercising at OUE."

All seniors should see their doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.

Interested seniors can call Schodzinski at 740-699-2503 or via email at to see if they are eligible for the Silver Sneakers program. Membership status can be checked over the phone in less than a minute.

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