Exercise tips for a rainy day
Seniors living at Springfield Housing Authority’s Forest Park Manor Apartments know the value of daily exercise – they can often be seen out walking when weather permits.
And now, thanks to ongoing visits by nursing students at American International College, residents have a battery of indoor exercises to do when it’s raining, snowing, or simply too cold.
Students have been visiting the seniors in groups of four, demonstrating and guiding throughout stretching and warm-ups to exercises they can do sitting or standing at home, with instruments they can find in their kitchens, such as full water bottles, canned goods and juice boxes. Exercises are aimed at improving strength, balance and core muscles.
On a recent morning, AIC Nursing Department juniors Neil Droney, Kelsey DeMatteo, Muoi Petruff and Kara Pulley led a group of seniors through nearly an hour of stretches and arm, leg and torso movements, some of them with weighted objects. Since many of the participating residents are Vietnamese, Petruff, who is also from that country, translated.
Students stressed the importance of daily exercise as a way to stay toned, increase strength and improve balance – all things that will keep them healthy and will ward off dangers, most especially falling.
“When you work on your core, you’re working on strengthening your whole body,” DeMatteo said. “The most important thing is to work on anything that helps with your balance, to prevent falls.”
Falls, the students noted, are especially dangerous for elderly people, and can change the quality of a life in an instant.
The AIC visits are part of the college’s community outreach training, offering helpful guidance to the public, as well as important training for the students, said Professor Ayesha Ali, who was overseeing the session.
“Nurses are always teaching, so we’re very lucky to be able to give our students an opportunity like this,” Ali said. “This gives them a chance to be good nurses, and to offer useful information about good health to people in the community.”
Resident Services Director Pamela Wells said working with residents to improve quality of life is a priority for the agency.
“The partnership with AIC nursing students provides a great opportunity for the residents of Forest Park Manor,” Wells said.
“The students provide blood pressure screenings as well as some light exercise classes to the residents. These services are very valuable to our residents and the fact that they are offered where they live make it convenient as well,” Wells added.
After the exercise session, nursing students sat at tables and provided blood pressure screening and specific information to residents.
DeMatteo said she is especially grateful to be working with people who are essentially healthy, and guiding them to even better health.
“It’s very helpful for us,” DeMatteo said. “We’re so used to being in the hospital, working in that setting. This is really different for us, and so rewarding.”
Droney said he appreciated the residents’ enthusiasm and participation in the workout.
“You could just see they were involved and excited about it,” Droney said.
For their part, residents agreed that the session gave them useful tips about exercise and health. Many of them already walk outdoors, and had asked specifically for ideas about working out inside their apartments when the weather is inclement.
“It was very good,” said resident Lorraine Shaw, who has lived at Forest Park Manor for 20 years and is a frequent participant in SHA’s Resident Services programs.
“I enjoyed the exercises. What they explained to us about exercise and health was very interesting,” she added.
SHA has a robust Resident Services Department, with 13 staffers providing an array of programs and services to help residents attain higher levels of education, find jobs, improve family relationships, boost literacy among children, receive after-school and summer programming, and especially in the case of elderly residents, maintain good health so that they can age in place in their independent apartments.
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