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Senior program offers fun, wellness

August 25, 2013
Town Crier

Active seniors seeking an affordable way to exercise and socialize are invited to join the Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program at The Ursuline Center, 4280 Shields Road. SilverSneakers is a health, wellness and exercise program for older adults. The Ursuline Center is accepting new participants for the program's land and water classes there.

"Get fit, have fun, make friends" is the motto of the national program, and participants at the Canfield location avow that's just what they do.

"It's like one big happy family," observes Alice Chiaro, who's taken classes for more than a year. Alice drives from New Middletown to participate, but says the distance is small compared with the return for attending. "We have a good time and it keeps me moving. When I come home, I feel energized. I wish I could go five days a week."

Fred Romero of Austintown, admits he was hesitant at first about joining alone, but after one visit he was hooked. "I like the people and the Sisters are friendly. I'm trying to get some other senior friends involved. I think they'll enjoy it."

Austintown's Patty Moylan, who's been with the program for a few years, adds, "It's a really nice facility. It's carpeted in the library, and that makes a big difference. If you're elderly and have back problems, it's set up well there."

"I've taught in a lot of places," comments instructor Phil Davis, "but this is a really nice facility. They've got air conditioning, a comfortable environment, it's nice, it's quiet, and it has more than enough room."

A great teacher is important, and these participants have high praise for Davis. "I'm 73 years old -- I fit right in," Davis says. "I'm compassionate and know what they're going through."

Davis is devoted to his work and declares, "Exercise can positively change your life. It will make you feel better physically and mentally. The health benefits of exercise are undeniable."

The strong social benefits created through SilverSneakers are important as well. "There's a lot of camaraderie. If anyone is sick or misses a class, everyone wants to know where they are," Moylan states. "Some of them go out to have breakfast afterwards."

Ursuline Sister of Youngstown Sister Mary Ellen Dean, who coordinates the land program, says, "People will say they drag themselves out of bed to be with the other people in the morning. When someone is sick, someone comes up with a card and everyone signs it and sends it. Somebody brought homemade vegetable soup the other day and passed out cups of it! They're a really friendly group."

The hourlong land classes, during which participants exercise seated and/or standing, are offered Mondays and Wednesdays at both 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. The low-impact water exercise classes are offered at 10:45 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"Some do both the land and water classes," observes Sister Mary Ellen, "some do only one."

SilverSneakers offers cardio exercises as well as those to improve strength and range of movement, but as Moylan notes, participants adjust their motion to accommodate physical limitations.

SilverSneakers is designed for people ages 55 and older, but participants in The Ursuline Center classes, Sister Mary Ellen reports, range from ages 50 to 90 and include singles and married couples.

"The participants of the SilverSneakers program here at the Motherhouse are a blessing and a gift to the Sisters," says Sister Therese Ann Rich, program coordinator. "Our lives are filled with friendship, play, joy, pain, and the prayer of those who enter into our home."

The Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown host two socials for their SilverSneakers participants each year, and the participants themselves put together a yearly party, Sister Mary Ellen notes.

People interested in participating should contact Sister Therese Ann Rich at 330-792-7636 ext. 201 or



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