Seniorcize energizes

Register Editor

BASSETT — Maude Burns is living proof that exercise keeps you young. She’s a spry 78 year-old who has turned her love of music and dance into the popular Seniorcize exercise class offered by the Iola Recreation Department.
She admonishes her fellow seniors who think “their recliner is their best friend,” because “really, it’s their worst enemy.”
Burns addressed members of Thrive Allen County Monday night at the home of Joy and Neil Westervelt. Healthy living is a platform of Thrive’s mission to make Allen County a healthier and safer place to live.
Burns said exercises that stretch and strengthen are especially helpful to seniors, who tend to lose their sense of balance more easily.
“When you’re flexible and strong you’re not as liable to fall because you have the strength to regain your balance,” she said. “If you do happen to fall, you’ll be less likely to break a bone because you’ll have strong muscles surrounding your bones. And if do break a bone, you’ll heal quicker if your bones are strong.”
Burns showed the group simple exercises such as squats to strengthen one’s legs and simple arm exercises for strength and flexibility. She stressed the importance of strong arms to those dependent on walkers, saying, “they don’t come with motors, you know.”
Besides exercise, the classes are good places to meet people and have a laugh, Burns said.
The classes are not just for senior citizens but for anyone wanting to reap the benefits of being more fit. She cited a few instances of where people suffering from arthritis or fibromyalgia began to feel more energy and fewer aches and pains because of the gentle movements of the program.
Burns doesn’t follow a scripted exercise program but creates varying routines gleaned from her years of teaching aerobics. “We start at the head and go down to your toes,” she said of the comprehensive circuit that lasts about 45 minutes, “or until I get tired.” For those who feel uncertain about their ability to participate fully, Burns assured that the exercises can be performed sitting in a chair, if necessary, and that even that limited motion is beneficial.
“It’s important to get your circulation going, no matter what level,” she said. “Some people shuffle their feet through the routines, some people really go after it. We have all levels of abilities come.”
The secret to staying with the program is to start “slow and easy,” she said. “It’s when people go all out at the beginning of a program that they either hurt themselves or get burned out,” she said. Her classes average 30 participants and include some men, but mostly women.
Classes meet year-round on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 9 a.m. at the Community Recreation Building in Riverside Park. Helping her are Donna Valentine and Charlene Levans, who lead classes in her stead. Levans also teaches a slightly more advanced exercise class at 5:15 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the North Community Building.
Burns is working with Thrive to extend some form of the class to other communities throughout the county. The classes are free, courtesy of the lola Rec Department. For more information, call the department at 365-4990.