Residents of Sedgebrook senior living community in Lincolnshire are entering a new year with fitness goals that were sown over the holidays.
Before Thanksgiving, Sedgebrook fitness specialist Jackie Nitsche put a spin on an interactive workshop called "Balance the Body, Balance the Mind" by offering exercises and tips to stabilize the mind as well as the body.
"In most cases, the body will follow the mind," Jackie said.
In addition to breathing techniques, chair aerobics, stretching and balance drills, yoga and tai chi, Jackie and Sedgebrook wellness coordinator Jessica Jonckheere encourage the power of laughter in the experience.
"'Hee-hee, ho-ho' breathing exercises turned into real smiles and laughs," Jessica said.
"Laughter has a huge place in fitness, because stress hormones are decreased and 'feel good' hormones are increased," Jackie added. "We all know the benefit of a good belly laugh."
Beginning in November, a two-month "Commit to Stay Fit During the Holidays" incentive incorporated eight dimensions of wellness: physical, spiritual, social, vocational, intellectual, environmental, emotional, and health services.
Jessica, Jackie and community resources coordinator Ryan Springer highlighted the broad range of activities available to residents, from pastoral care to karaoke, and identified which dimensions of wellness they involved. Residents were awarded points and subsequent prizes for each activity in which they engaged and received double points for fitness options.
"People began tracking their workouts and trying new things," Jessica said.
Sedgebrook's two on-site physicians have also begun to write prescriptions for patients to enroll in the various fitness options within the community.
"Both doctors can specify exactly what they want their patients to do, whether it be a balance class, cardiovascular work, strength training, physical therapy, etc.," Jessica said. "Because it's a prescription, people take it more seriously."
Along with doctors' orders, the new year also promises to bring down the "last barrier" to regular exercise, according to Jessica: the elimination of fees for group fitness offerings.
One such new free class is BYOB ("Build Your Optimum Balance"), featuring water exercises on Tuesdays and Thursdays and land exercises on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
"Instead of adding a new class strictly for, say, yoga or water aerobics, we brought together a combination of yoga, tai chi, balance techniques, core strength and stability into one class five days a week."
More interactive workshops like "Balance the Body, Balance the Mind" are also on the agenda for 2015.
Whatever the incentive, once residents get involved in fitness at Sedgebrook, they're likely to stay. Some are even surprised by how much they gain. Jessica tells the story of a reluctant woman she encouraged to come into the fitness center.
"Just give me five minutes, I said." Jessica sat on a machine next to the woman who, after 20 minutes, couldn't believe she'd been there that long. "My back doesn't hurt as much as it did," she said. "It was a first step, but a very big step," said Jessica.
"Our goal is, and always has been, to keep residents motivated and moving," Jackie said. "Change is good, and challenge is needed to prevent physical and mental boredom. But keeping things fun, inviting, effective, adaptable and, last but not least, safe is our primary intention."
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