Enhance Fitness: A free program for seniors

Enhance Fitness is a physical activity program for Kaua‘i’s older adults that is designed to improve functional fitness and well being of older adults. Functional fitness means keeping strong, balanced and flexible so you retain the ability to do things for yourself — the daily activities of life that you normally would do.

Enhance Fitness is an evidence-based program, which means that it has been tested and studied to show its effectiveness for older adults. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that older adults should do at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise weekly, and that older adults must be given opportunities to enjoy physical fitness activities that are specially designed for their needs.

Regular exercise in older adults has been found to decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure (hypertension), osteoporosis (thinning bones), heart disease, diabetes and depression. Seniors can improve their health and maintain their independence so that they may age in place longer.

The Enhance Fitness classes are held three times a week at various locations throughout the island. They people an opportunity to exercise and socialize with their friends.

The classes focus on balance, strength, endurance and flexibility exercises and are adjustable to all levels of fitness. The program is specifically designed for older adults and was developed by researchers at the University of Washington in collaboration with Senior Services and Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, Wash.

Classes are taught by certified fitness instructors who are specifically trained in Enhance Fitness procedures and the exercise program. The program is taught exactly the same in each location, and the classes contain all the components of the program to ensure a standardized delivery. Enhance Fitness began on Kaua‘i in July of 2007 and now has expanded to seven sites and eight classes throughout the island. A new site will be opening in April of this year to accommodate those who are on waiting lists.

The sites are: Kekaha Neighborhood Center, Waimea Neighborhood Center, Kaumakani Neighborhood Center, Koloa Neighborhood Center, Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center, Kapa‘a United Church of Christ and Kilauea Neighborhood Center. Class times vary and always are held three times a week in each center.

Before beginning, registration forms must be completed including a doctor’s clearance and a consent form to be part of the program and its ongoing research. Fitness checks are completed at the beginning in order to establish a baseline fitness level them again at four months and then every six months to record progress. Because this is a physical activity, athletic shoes must be worn to class.

The program is funded by the Administration on Aging, through the state Executive Office on Aging, the county of Kaua‘i and the Department of Health and Human Services and Communities Putting Prevention to Work. It is offered free to all seniors over the age of 60.

For more information, you can contact Johnny Yago the program coordinator at the County of Kaua‘i Agency on Elderly Affairs 4444 Rice St., Ste. 330, or phone 241-4470. Anyone needing assistance, auxiliary aids or alternative format of materials, contact Johnny Yago at 241-4470 five working days before starting.

 

• Jane Riley, certified personal trainer, B.A., C.P.T, C.N.A., can be reached at 212-1451 or www.janerileyfitness.com.

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