A number of Nodaway County Senior Center patrons are stepping up their efforts to stay fit and trim thanks to a new state-of-the-art recumbent exercise machine purchased earlier this year with a $4,000 grant from the Gladys Rickard Trust.
Sharon Meyer, a physical therapist at St. Francis Hospital & Health Services, worked with trust representatives to secure funding for the machine after deciding that local seniors needed additional opportunities for safe, effective exercise.
The result was the acquisition late this summer of a new NuStep recumbent cross-trainer, which allows the user to stay seated in a partially reclining position while performing a full-body aerobic and resistance-based workout.
Meyer said she asked the trust to fund the machine because she wanted seniors to be able to take part in the kind of workouts offered by the hospital's physical therapy department but without incurring any financial cost.
"The Senior Center provides meals and socialization for many in Nodaway County, and it seemed like the perfect location to put a NuStep," Meyer said.
Before the machine was installed, Meyer worked closely with Senior Center Manager Amie Firavich to make sure there were adequate provisions for supervision and maintenance.
"The goal is to have free public access to a piece of equipment that has excellent potential for both improving and maintaining physical strength and endurance," Meyer said.
Now that the NuStep is in place in the center's large dining room/common area, Firavich said a number of patrons are using it daily, usually just before or just after lunch.
While stereotypes persist about older people preferring rocking chairs and recliners to an active lifestyle, Firavich said many seniors these days are aware of the importance of lifelong physical fitness.
"You need exercise," she said, "and I think we have quite a few people who are conscious about their exercise and fitness programs. The NuStep is definitely a benefit."
As more workout-addicted baby boomers reach retirement age, Firavich said she expects many senior centers to move toward creating new opportunities for keeping fit.
Locally however, many older people already use the walking/running track and other facilities at the Maryville Community Center, and Firavich said she has no desire to offer competing services.
But she does think there may be opportunities for the Senior Center and the Community Center to cooperate in developing programs that make it easier for seniors to stay active.
"We want to work together rather than compete against each other," she said. "There may be ways for us to get involved more with the Community Center and partner with them."
The NuStep is just one of several projects funded this year by the Rickard Trust, which in June disbursed more than $160,000 to agencies and charitable organizations.
Page 2 of 2 - In addition to the Senior Center, grants were approved for the Maryville Ministry Center's Backpack Buddies program, the Maryville Public Library, the NoCoMo Industries sheltered workshop, the Nodaway County Sheriff's Department and Mozingo Lake Park.
Since 2004, the trust, established by the late Gladys Rickard of Hopkins, has provided more than $2.2 million in support a wide range of civic improvements and humanitarian aid.