Seniors exercise program a hit in Delhi

Originally posted in the Simcoe Reformer – By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Sunday, November 11, 2012 4:57:33 EST PM

DELHI – An active senior is a healthy senior.

And when seniors are active, they are also happier.

That is the philosophy behind an exercise and sports program that was launched at Delhi Community Health Centre in March. By time it winds down in March of 2013, nearly 60 seniors in all from the Delhi area will have reaped the benefits.

The program was made possible by a $25,000 grant from Ottawa’s New Horizons for Seniors initiative. Saturday, local MP Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources & Skills Development, attended the health centre to speak about the program’s objectives.

“It’s so important that we recognize the special needs of our seniors,” Finley said. “They built this community. We didn’t come in and do that ourselves. They looked after us and now it’s our turn to look after them.”

Seniors often withdraw and go into decline once they stop being active. The program offered at the health centre gets them moving for an hour twice a week. The benefits are not only physical, but emotional as well as psychological.

“It gets them up and out of the house,” says health centre co-ordinator Linda VanLondersele. “They really like the social aspect as well. Some have really excelled and mastered the exercises, so they are doing well at helping others too.”

Exercise co-ordinator Jessica Vandenbussche has put together a low-impact program that strengthens the legs, arms and core. Hand and knee exercises are blended with routines that draw on low-impact yoga and tai chi. The payoff is greater strength and improved balance, two bulwarks against dreaded falls that so often land seniors in the hospital with broken bones or worse.

The $25,000 grant is one-time money. The goal is to get the ball rolling and make the program self-perpetuating. Vandenbussche says some of the program participants have offered to volunteer as exercise leaders for others. She will also advise seniors about similar programs on offer elsewhere in the community.

The Harper government has devoted $35.6 million to the New Horizons for Seniors Program. To date, the funds have been used to fund 2,000 community-based initiatives such as the one in Delhi.

Monte Sonnenberg

519-426-3528 ext. 150

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