Fit, Fun, and Fabulous Elders

Elders work with Jennifer Dawkins, exercise technician, to stay active and healthy.

Supporting the health and wellness of Elders is important to Southcentral Foundation. To ensure there are many opportunities available to Elders, each clinic does their part in providing services that focus on Elder fitness and wellness. One example is the Elder activities offered in Wasilla and Sutton that focus on fitness and overall health.

The Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center hosts weekly Elder classes on Tuesdays. Their weekly routine includes a 30-minute fitness session in the newly remodeled gym. Participants look forward to low impact chair exercises, arm and leg strengthening, stretching, and plenty of walking. Jackie Alstrom, Elder class facilitator, has seen several Elders improve their fitness abilities over the past several years. She has observed one Elder improve so much, they no longer need the assistance of a walker and can now get around using a cane, and sometimes no cane at all. After practicing fitness, the class moves on to an hour of fun activities and a healthy snack. Activities range from storytelling and gardening, to dancing with live music.

The C’eyiits’ Hwnax Life House Community Health Center is still relatively new and is growing as community needs are realized. Most recently, they have begun offering regular fitness classes, which take place at Life House’s fitness studio. Two classes are offered weekly on Friday morning and afternoon. Life House is a community health center which provides services on a sliding fee scale and is open to Alaska Native, American Indian, and non-Native people, which means classes are open to everyone in the community.

James McKinley, the new exercise physiologist, who previously worked as fitness director for the Anchorage Senior Center, has developed each class to cater to a range of physical ability. The morning class, called Easy Does It, focuses on range-of-motion, flexibility, core strength, and stability. The afternoon class is circuit training, which utilizes exercise stations and is predominantly strength building with a mix of balance, cardio, and stretch. All classes are modified for the individual. Elders and individuals of all fitness levels are encouraged to participate in either class. James’ goal is to show customer-owners they can exercise to feel better and become stronger, despite an individual’s physical restrictions or limitations.

National Senior Fitness day is on May 29. Be sure to encourage the Elders in your life to stay active and take advantage of the programs available to them through Southcentral Foundation services.

For more information about the Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center Elder Wellness Classes, call (907) 631-7630. For more information about the C’eyiits’ Hwnax Life House Community Health Center Fitness Classes, call (907) 631-7665.

by Krystin Bogan

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