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Program gets seniors moving

After sitting on the couch for a year during the pandemic, one local senior thought it was time to take some action.
choose to move

After sitting on the couch for a year during the pandemic, one local senior thought it was time to take some action.

Dorothy Friesen just completed the three-month Choose to Move Program geared for those 65 plus who are inactive who wish to become more active, whatever that looks like for them.

"I am 74 and for a while there I was feeling like I was 94," Friesen said. "It was getting hard to even walk. I knew I had to do something or I was going to end up in a wheelchair."

Getting groceries, going to meet friends in the park or just going for a walk with her husband were just distant memories until recently.

"Now we go for walks every night if the weather is decent, I went to a book club meeting in Lheidli T'enneh Memorial Park and was able to walk to a sunny spot carrying my lawn chair," Friesen said. "I tell you three months ago I would not have been able to do that. I can move and go grocery shopping and do all those things again."

Choose to Move is now a virtual program that is free to any senior at any fitness level who thinks a little boost will help motivate them.

"They give you lots of encouragement and get you to set goals and all that kind of stuff," Freisen said. "They give you access to some online exercise programs and movement programs and that encouraged me to find others and it's been great."

There were seven people in the program with Friesen and she looked forward to the weekly meetings.

"They were a great bunch of people," she said. 

Friesen did a number of different things to extend her range of motion, build strength and achieve better balance to prevent falls.

"That is so important as we get older," Friesen said. "People fall and break their hips - I don't want to be one of those people."

The program coordinator and activity coach, Lisa Neukomm, said during the program people can access resources within their community and set their goals to what they need.

The group gets together for about an hour via Zoom each week for some educational content and time for participants to share their successes and challenges.

"We would meet with Lisa and she had a different focus every time so we'd go through all these different things like exercise, diet and mental health," Friesen explained. "It was really good."

The program begins with a one-on-one session with the activity coach.

"I help them navigate what their goals are and help them successfully lay out an action plan, depending on what their interests are and what their abilities are," Neukomm said. 

"Then we work together to strategize ways to continue to stay on track and provide support for each other and there's also the social aspect of the sessions."  

The program creates that sense of community during the online sessions as that is an important part of people's success.

"We've had lots of success stories within this program," Neukomm said. "We've had people who were pretty house bound and couldn't even walk a half a block who set a goal to walk a block or walk two blocks and at the end of the program are now successfully being able to go on a 30-minute walk with no problems." 

Other people could not get up from their chairs without assistance from a walker who now able to rise with no supports only using their lower body strength and their core muscles, Neukomm added.

"I do encourage my friends who are having problems with unsteady balance to join Lisa," Friesen said. 

The Choose to Move model is an initiative of the Active Aging Society developed by the Active Aging Research Team at the University of British Columbia and funded by Government of British Columbia. Since its creation in 2016 Choose to Move has been delivered in partnership with many organizations in more than 65 communities, with thousands of seniors participating.

For more information visit www.choosetomove.ca. To contact Neukomm email her at Inspiredlifestyles@shaw.ca.