2014 Campus News: Novel Approach to Exercise

2014 Campus News: Novel Approach to Exercise

Campus residents test a pilot fitness program

Exercise groupWhat does it take to motivate seniors of a certain age to commit to a physical exercise regime? A group of Ring House and Revitz House residents, who completed a ten-week pilot program at Rockville’s Fitness for Health gym, offer this answer: “Make it fun…and we will come!”

Fitness for Health, a therapeutic exercise and training center, takes an innovative approach to fitness. Founder Marc Sickel has shifted away from a standard exercise model toward one that employs intriguing games on cutting-edge exergaming equipment with catchy names like Makoto, Trazer, Batak, and Sport Wall. “This high-tech apparatus is fun, engaging for the users, and increases the chance that they’ll stick with the program,” says Sickel. Activities are designed to improve mental processing, balance, fitness levels, and build confidence.

Seniors in our independent-living residences, ranging in age from 52 to 92, were invited to participate in the pilot. To evaluate its benefits, they were asked to complete the Brief Cognitive Assessment Tool (BCAT) and the RehabCare Senior Fitness Test before, midway, and at the conclusion. Also, at every visit, they took the RehabCare Smile/Mood Test.

Not only did all residents report a lift in mood and sense of well-being, they also loved taking part in novel exercise games and appreciated the continual encouragement of fitness trainers.

Statistics from the Senior Fitness Test were positive; 65 percent showed improvements in lower body strength, speed, agility, and balance, while over 75 percent improved their stamina and endurance. Most exciting and notable were physical gains by female participants in their 90s; stamina and endurance grew and their scores rose in measurements of lower and upper body strength. 

Marion Poker, 88, loved working out with friends.” Betty Steinmetz, 91, said she and friends enjoyed “exercising our eyes and minds as well as our bodies.” Staff observed how much residents welcomed the break from routines and exhibited enthusiasm from the moment they boarded campus buses.

“We absolutely enjoyed having the residents and staff at our facility,” says Chris Garcia, director of operations at Fitness for Health. “It was great working with your group and making a difference in their lives. It was also great to see and hear the progress they made over a short time period. We loved listening to their stories, and it seemed like they enjoyed sharing them with us.”

This program turned everyone into a champion.


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