Wellness Wednesdays catch on in Craig

photo

Tamera Manzanares/courtesy

Fitness instructor Tammie Workman leads a full class of participants in exercises intended to improve their strength and flexibility. The class, among activities offered during Wellness Wednesdays, is popular among Craig residents ages 50 and older.

Wellness Wednesdays

Schedule (through December):

- 9 to 10:30 a.m., Writing memoirs (CNCC)

- 10 a.m. to noon, Senior Wellness clinic and Ask a Nurse program (Aging Well)

- 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Arthritis Foundation Fitness (Aging Well)

- 11:30 to 1 p.m., Free lunch with presentation (Aging Well)

- 1 to 3 p.m., Basic art (CNCC)

- 3:30 to 7 p.m., Open swim (Aging Well)

- 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Tai Chi (CNCC)

Aging Well activities are free, and CNCC classes are free to Moffat County residents ages 62 and older. For information or to register, call 871-7676.

It's Wednesday, late morning, and the parking lot at the American Legion in Craig is overflowing with cars. Inside, more than 30 older adults gently stretch limbs and work muscles in a fitness class aimed at helping them become stronger and more flexible.

Word has gotten out about Wellness Wednesdays, a day of activities offered by the VNA's Aging Well program and Colorado Northwestern Community College.

Participation has gradually grown since it started about a year ago, and regular attendees are so pleased with the mostly free exercise, health and creative activities that their only complaint is there isn't also a Wellness Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

"I wish they had it more than one day - I really look forward to it every week," said Patsy Magness, who attends the arthritis fitness class every Wednesday with her husband Ray and also participates in a writing and art class during the day.

The Magnesses are among residents who say the program is filling a big need by providing older adults a social outlet and no-cost opportunities to maintain or improve their physical and emotional health.

"This is such a blessing and so needed : I am just thankful we heard about it and started going," said Donna Beason, who attends the fitness class and free lunch nearly every week with her mother and mother-in-law.

The Arthritis Foundation fitness class is particularly popular because it offers a variety of exercises that can be modified to accommodate participants' different fitness levels and conditions.

Patsy Magness, who contends with multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis, has experienced better balance and flexibility and also has had a bit more energy since starting the class a year ago.

At the same time, Ray Magness, whose is physically active and in good health, has found the class is a good addition to his other workout routines.

"The more exercise I do, the better I feel," he said.

With the weather growing colder, the class provides a welcome opportunity for the Beason family to get out of the house and exercise under the watchful eye of an instructor who can tell them what they are doing correctly and incorrectly.

The class has helped Beason and her mother, who both have osteoporosis, as well as her mother-in-law become stronger and more mobile.

"There would be a very big hole without it," Beason said. "I don't know what we'd do - just walking in the mall just doesn't do it."

Donna Beason and her family also appreciate visiting with other participants during lunch and listening to talks given by local professionals such as Sgt. John Forgay of the Craig Police Department, who recently spoke to the group about protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud.

Speakers "all address issues we face," Donna Beason said.

Time is also set aside during the day for wellness activities and clinics, such as the Ask-a-Nurse program.

The benefits of the Wellness Wednesdays haven't gone unnoticed in the local medical community. Pamela Kinder of the Kinder Family Clinic is among doctors who have noticed more energy and confidence among patients that participate in the program.

She has recommended it to patients coping with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, back pain and arthritis.

"For a lot of them, just getting out and being with other people helps a lot," Kinder said. "It helps with energy levels, it helps with pain control and it helps with moods."

While there are no plans to expand the Wellness Wednesdays program to multiple days per week, coordinator Cathy Vanatta is working to offer an additional fitness class later in the day to help meet growing demand. For more information, call 871-7676.

Tamera Manzanares can be reached at tammarie74@yahoo.com.

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