Before the women take the floor, Mary Ann Rickertsen shares that she is off two medications because of the progress she has made in the Fit and Fabulous Older Adult Exercise/Fall Prevention Program.
The program, led by Cindy Paustian, helps older adults such as Rickertsen develop strength and balance skills to help them with chronic illnesses.
Four years ago, former physician assistant Roger Wells came to Paustian with the idea for this program for the older population because he saw the need.
The group exercises twice a week for an hour per session, working on weights for strength training, and balance and mobility exercises.
Paustian said the program started with three women, and it has grown to 22 people with one man in the ranks.
Wilber Medbery said he doesn’t see it that way.
“It’s just a group that has fun exercising,” Medbery said.
He said the balance exercises have been great for him, and he is able to do things he didn’t think he could.
One exercise Medbery has really worked on is one where he has to walk in a straight line, one foot in front of the other.
“The first time I did that, I almost fell over every time I took a step, but I can do it now,” he said.
The balance exercises have helped Jackie Mayberry stay out of the emergency room for more than two years.
Mayberry was one of the original members of the class and she joined because she knew she needed help with her balance.
“I was having a lot of trouble,” Mayberry said. “I was visiting the emergency room almost once a week because I’ve fallen in the middle of the night or I’ve fallen late at night and had the night cop come and help me get up.”
Mayberry proudly stated it has been two years since she has fallen, and she credits that to the work she has accomplished in class.
As the instructor, Paustian is proud of where all of the members of the group are and how the group has grown in four years.
“All the participants that are in the class are dedicated and committed,” Paustian said. “They understand the benefits of sticking with an exercise program and a balance and mobility and fall prevention program and how it has impacted their life in a positive manner.”
Paustian said the class has helped improve the lives of those with chronic health conditions including diabetes, joint pain, bone loss and other issues that the elderly face.
Carolyn Just is one of those members with a chronic condition as she had polio 62 years ago.
“We went through a lot of physical therapy and I came out of it and you do good for a lot of years,” Just said. “Then something called post-polio happens to us, and from about the time of 55 it reacted to me.”
Just said she tried to exercise to help counteract the effects of post-polio, but this program has helped her a lot.
“I started right away when Cindy started it (the program) and I need it because I have a lot of trouble with my back and my legs, and I have trouble swallowing, but those are all post-polio syndrome things that happen to us.”
Paustian said the program was recognized as an outstanding community-based older adult exercise and fall prevention program by the National HEALTHYpeople Initiative, which encourages older adults to become active in programs such as Paustian’s.
Paustian also is starting classes of the same nature at the YMCA in Grand Island, so more members of the older adult community can participate.
Paustian said people would like to join the class in St. Paul could call her at 308-383-8613.
Those would like to sign up for her classes at the YMCA in Grand Island can do it through the YMCA.
“Our main goal is to challenge our individuals to lead the best life they can and be as healthy as they can,” Paustian said.
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