A way for Bulkley Valley seniors to Choose to Move

Free information session in Smithers scheduled for Friday, March 15.

As we were growing up, many of us had older family members that we may remember as not being very active. They were retired or perhaps had had injuries or diseases throughout their lives that had cased them or led them to believe that it was now the time of life to just sit back and maybe do as little as possible.

Modern research into lifestyle shows that this is, in almost all cases, not the best of choices. We now know that physical activity is a very important part of our lives and must continue into the later years of our lives.

Choose to Move is an exciting new program which will be sponsored by the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA). It is based on scientific research and will has the potential to change the way you live as a senior adult very much for the better.

Even better, the program is free of charge. The first Choose to Move program is up and running currently with a group of nine participants at the Ranger Park Building.

According to recent research, one of the main benefits of such activity is an increased positive outlook on life besides the expected physical results such as improved cardiovascular health and circulation. Better bone health and immunity are additional benefits.

Here in Smithers, we have a very active community that some would say does not been any encouragement to get out there and move a bit. We see lots a people walking, biking and jogging. There are plenty of people out there on the golf course (when it’s available!) and the local pool always seems to be busy. (The aquafit program in the morning often has over 30 participants, many who would qualify as “senior”). There seem to be fitness classes such as yoga all over the place and they seem to be well-attended.

That said, there are some members of our senior community who are reluctant, for a variety of reasons, to participate.

If we can remember some of the difficulties our grandparents and great-grandparents had with balance, general flexibility and strength, involvement in programs such as Choose to Move may be just what the doctor ordered.

Laura Aspenlind, recreation coordinator with Smithers Recreation, Parks and Culture, explains that Choose to Move is about making choices and building habits. In this free six-month program, “You work with a trained activity coach who helps you develop a plan made just for you. When it gets tough, you will have the support from your coach and a group of other seniors, who, just like you, are making a choice for health — they are choosing to move,” she said.

In Choose to Move, you will receive both individual and group support. You’ll work one-on-one with a trained activity coach to create a tailor-made physical activity plan to meet your health and fitness goals. You’ll get to choose activities that you know you will enjoy and are able to do.

Activities can range from organized fitness classes, such as Tai Chi and yoga, to individual activities you do on your own schedule such as gardening and walking.

These meetings are planned to happen over-the-phone or in person at a time that will work for you.

You could possibly join a group of other people in the program so that you can share your successes and talk about your challenges.

All in all, the idea is that you will easily be able to learn a variety of new ways to live a healthier and more active life.

Aspenlind explains that it will be that more of a coaching program than anything else. “Basically, it’s with an older adult fitness specialist. We’ll have six group meetings throughout the program where we will get together in a classroom setting where everyone sits down and talks about what will work best for them as far as movement goes. It’s really personalized,” she said.

The program will be very personalized. For example, for some people, it will be going for a walk or it might be stretching at home. “The plan is for each participant to get a phone call on a biweekly basis just to see how things are going and to see if there are any questions, if they need any support. It will be just kind of a check in every two weeks,” she said.

For that six-month period, the program coaches will be following up on the participant goals.

“It’s not so much a fitness program as it is a coaching program and a way to encourage them,” said Aspenlind.

She said that it as fairly new program which is being offered in a small number of communities around the province. To date it appears that it has been highly successful where ever it has run.

“I think its super beneficial and I feel that there is a lack of programs of this kind for older adults,” she said.

She feels that the feedback to date for the Choose to Move program has been very positive.

She notes that there will be a second round of the program beginning in early April with a free information session scheduled for Friday, March 15 from 9-10:30 a.m. at the Ranger Park Building. For more information on the program, check choosetomove.info or contact Laura Aspenlind at (250) 847-1600, or email laspenlind@smithers.ca.


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