Harrodsburg church hosts fitness day for seniors


HARRODSBURG - Seniors have shed their former image of frailty and dependence. Despite advanced years, more and more older Americans are maintaining their vitality and self-sufficiency through exercise. Now, getting older doesn't necessarily mean giving up health or independence.

About 100 active seniors attended a National Senior Health and Fitness Day event Wednesday at Harrodsburg Baptist Church's new recreational complex.

Frances Caton, exercise coordinator for the center and financial secretary of the church, organized the event. She found information about NSHFD online and decided that "it would be a wonderful way to use the new facility [and] emphasize, 'if you don't use it, you lose it.'"

Caton, who leads a weekly senior aerobic class for adults age 50 and up at the recreational center, thought the event would "bring in people who weren't active. It's about helping people understand the importance of staying strong and active. That's the key to staying independent."


Square dancing, line dancing, exercise demonstrations, and low impact aerobics got the crowds moving. The exercises were both sitting and standing and involved weight/resistance training with strips of surgical rubber. A number of people joined in the activities, while others mingled around the booths or participated in free health screenings.

Numerous community health organizations attended the NSHFD event, including the Mercer County Health Department, James B. Haggin Memorial Hospital, McDowell Wellness Center, the Harrodsburg Medicine Shoppe, and Comprehensive Care Mercer County. The health booths distributed information about nutrition, drug interaction, Medicare prescription drug cards, and low impact exercise programs as well as screening blood pressure and bone density.

Harrodsburg Chiropractic even set up a massage station, which according to Caton, was a great success. "He's been the most popular person here."

Juanita Gaines, of Harrodsburg, heard about the event "on the radio and in the paper" and decided to see what NSHFD was all about. Jewell Ballard, also of Harrodsburg, heard about it at Harrodsburg Baptist Church. "I have been very fortunate. I'm very healthy and I don't take any medicine. But I can see how these tests could be very helpful," she said.

An estimated 150,000 older adults participate nationwide

NSHFD is held annually on the last Wednesday in May. An estimated 150,000 older adults nationwide participate.

NSHFD program manager Tina Godin says, "Our goals for senior day are to make exercise fun, to increase awareness of the benefits of a regular exercise program for older adults, and to encourage all older adults to take advantage of the many health and fitness programs offered in their communities."

Melissa Moore, the senior community health nurse at the Mercer County Health Department, said "Frequently we'll do things like this ... at factories or the United Way ... but this is the first one we've had at a church with such an overwhelming response, especially with the seniors."

The church recreational complex, opened in December, often attracts large groups of people. Caton explains, "It's mission is to use it for outreach, to have a place where people can get involved with sports and exercise in a Christian environment."

The center includes a .15 of a mile walking track as well as a gymnasium and is used by the congregation and the community alike. The center is often busy with baseball and basketball clinics, volleyball, the Energizers senior exercise class, and aerobics groups.

The walking track has been, "a phenomenal success. We didn't recognize the need for this until we opened," said Caton.

Larry D. Camic, director of the recreational complex, adds that the walking track not only enables people to exercise regardless of the weather or health concerns such as allergies but also brings the community together. The walking track allows people to exercise no matter what their needs; some bring their oxygen tanks or their babies in strollers, although one woman's request to bring her dog was turned down.

Camic says, "It's been amazing that people come from all over, from all denominations and ethnic groups. We've just opened our arms."

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