Culpeper Star Exponent, September 7, 2023

Allison Brophy Champion

A new seated exercise program is proving to be a big hit with local seniors while providing a considerable health boost.

Through a partnership with Powell Wellness Center, the active initiative recently launched at Generations Central Adult Day Center at Culpeper Baptist Church. A 2023 Healthy Living grant from Culpeper Wellness Foundation is supporting the beneficial effort, according to a foundation news release.

Powell Wellness Center instructor Katie Hutchins is leading the new class. She holds a certification from Chair One Fitness, a chair-based dance fitness program. The exercise class at the center aligns with Powell’s mission to assist people, regardless of their current health status.

The goal is to develop and maintain a lifestyle that promotes health and wellness and minimizes risk of injury and illness, the release stated.

The weekly chair exercise class has allowed the senior adults to glean all the benefits of healthy movement while also having loads of fun, said Generation Central Director Sara Amos.

“Exercise is a well-researched intervention to reduce the risk of falls and promote overall health in the elderly,” she said.

It can also improve outcomes for people living with dementia, Amos added.

“Research strongly supports exercise as an effective lifestyle intervention in both the prevention of cognitive decline and disease and as a tool to slow its effects,” she said.

And it’s fun. When Hutchins takes her seat and the music starts, smiles quickly bubble up on participants’ faces, Amos said.

The class features upbeat tunes and a series of engaging and effective movements; everyone present can engage, no matter what their physical or cognitive level, she said. Participating seniors have reported, “I like the music the most” and “It helps everything loosen up,” according to the release.

“It is great to see them finish every class with a smile,” Amos said.

Generations Central staff have observed the class brings participants a new energy midway through the day. Basic health markers are measured to track the impact of their participation.

Senior adults enrolled at the day center have the opportunity to thrive in spite of living with chronic conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s and physical decline, Amos stated. A goal of the program is to improve, maintain and slow the decline of social, emotional, physical, cognitive and spiritual health.

“Developing an evidence-based program has the potential to reduce falls, promote cognitive function and improve quality of life,” Amos said.

The Culpeper Wellness Foundation grant will support 36 chair exercise classes taught by Powell instructors over the next year, as well as equipment and training to continue the exercise program beyond that timeframe.

Open for 18 months, Generations Central at Culpeper Baptist Church is the only adult day program in the five-county area, according to Amos. Another goal of the center is to help caregivers keep their loved ones living at home for as long as possible before considering a long-term care option.

“Many caregivers in our area don’t know that our program can help them accomplish this,” Amos said.

Asked about the cost to attend, the director said compared to a long-term care facility or in-home care services, Generations Central is very affordable per hour.

“In addition, the senior adult is not only getting a high quality of care, but they have a chance to make new friendships with other seniors, volunteers and children from the Child Development Center upstairs,” she said of the Baptist Church’s daycare and preschool programs.

Amos said it has been a fun journey launching the Adult Day Center.

“Caring for senior adults with dementia and their families is both a calling and true passion for me. There is a great need in our community for respite care and engaging programs that help to keep senior adults healthy in the face of age-related challenges.”

A dedicated staff and enthusiastic group of volunteers are passionate about sharing meaningful experiences with local seniors, Amos added.

Generations Central currently serves an average of 10 participants weekly and is hoping to double participation by next summer, said the director.