Generations Central Adult Day Center has launched a seated exercise program for senior adults with the support of a 2023 Healthy Living Grant from the Culpeper Wellness Foundation. The classes are taught by instructor Katie Hutchins from Powell Wellness Center (PWC). The program at the day center aligns with PWC’s mission to assist people, regardless of current health status, to develop and maintain a lifestyle that promotes health and wellness and minimizes risk of injury and illness.
According to Generation Central’s director Sara Amos, “Partnering with Powell Wellness Center to bring weekly chair exercise classes to Generations Central has allowed the senior adults to glean all the benefits of healthy movement while also having loads of fun. Exercise is a well-researched intervention to reduce the risk of falls and promote overall health in the elderly. However, there is also a large amount of research to specifically support exercise as an intervention to improve outcomes for persons living with dementia. 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.”
PWC instructor Katie Hutchins, who teaches the classes at the day center, holds a certification from Chair One Fitness. In Chair One classes, seated dance moves are designed to encourage mobility and progressive daily function. Amos observes, “When Katie takes her seat and the music starts, smiles quickly bubble up on the class participants’ faces. 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. When asked what they liked most about the new exercise program, the seniors shared comments such as ‘It’s great!’, ‘I like the music the most’ and ‘It helps everything loosen up’. It is great to see them finish every class with a smile.” According to Amos, the Generations Central staff have observed that the class brings participants a new energy mid-way through the day. Basic health markers are measured for each individual to track the impact of their program participation.
The senior adults enrolled at the day center have the opportunity to thrive every day, despite facing the challenges of living with chronic conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s, and physical decline, according to Amos. The goal of the center’s daily program is to improve, maintain, and slow the decline of the participants’ social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and spiritual health and to allow seniors to continue to live in their home with their family caregivers for as long as possible. “Developing an evidence-based program has the potential to reduce falls, promote cognitive function and improve quality of life for our participants,” observes Amos.
The grant from Culpeper Wellness Foundation supports a program of 36 chair exercise classes taught by Powell Wellness Center instructors over the next year. Additionally, the grant supports equipment and training to enable the Generations Central staff to continue the exercise program.