Active and Fit; SAIL program more than just building bones, it builds support

Published 5:50 am Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Early Friday morning, around 30 seniors were already starting their day with some exercise at the Mower County Senior Center.

With Elvis Presley songs softly playing in the background, the class began their fitness routines by gradually working on joints and performing aerobic exercises. The instructors and participants were in high spirits, and cracked jokes that resulted in laughter.

“It’s almost like a dance team,” one instructor giggled as the class did high-knee raises.

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The classes for Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) — formerly known as Bone Builders — has grown during the last several years since its early beginnings. What started off with between 8 to 10 people per class, has increased to 25-30 people per session, according to Lora Lee Bauer, instructor for SAIL Bone Builders.

Bev Mopzko, with two other instructors, helps lead a class during the SAIL Bone Builders Program.

Much of the growth was attributed to the number of referrals that SAIL program received by doctors and orthopedic surgeons from nearby hospitals, according to Bev Mopzko, another SAIL instructor, and that growing class sizes means possibly finding a bigger space to continue the fitness program.

“It’s a challenge for us,” Mopzko said.

These classes were specifically designed for people 55 or older to help improve balance and mobility; reducing the risk of falls and improving quality of life, and are free for participants, which is sponsored by Active Aging Programs Catholic Charities of Southern Minnesota. Classes typically run on Mondays and Fridays from 9-10 a.m. at the Mower County Senior Center.

One who benefited from SAIL was Linda Dudley of Austin. She suffered a fractured tibia in December, which resulted in her needing to use crutches. However, Dudley’s doctor had recommended SAIL to her, and since then, Dudley has been attending classes, and was encouraged by the results.

“This gets you out of the house,” she said. “It makes you get up in the morning. These exercises are nothing jarring for your joints.”

Linda Dudley works through leg exercises.

SAIL also was beneficial for Cindy Pechacek. She was healing from a total knee replacement, and her mother had suffered from a stroke earlier this year. Now, Pechacek and her mother both exercise and undergo a lot of physical activity, with much of the improved results created by SAIL.

“She wasn’t walking,” Pechacek said. “She had went through therapy. …We heard about (SAIL) and it made a huge difference in her walking and balance. It benefited the both of us. It gives us such great support.”

While many of the participants were recovering from orthopedic surgery or other medical treatment, SAIL fitness program has the ability of being flexible without being too strenuous on an individual’s injury.

“If you can’t do it, that’s OK,” Bauer said. “You can sit down and do it, and we always stress not to hurt themselves.’

For Dudley, she found herself progressing from her surgery because of SAIL and hopes to continue working on her fitness routine.

“I’m gonna work toward it,” she added with a smile.

Senior Living – July 2018