COURTNEY LATIMER, Exercise and Falls Prevention Program Assistant (Summer Student)
DURHAM: Community Care Durham(CCD)’s Online Exercise and Falls Prevention classes keep participants connected, both body and mind.
Regular Participant Carol Peddle knows this all too well. If you don’t keep active and your body moving, your physical fitness can easily decline. COVID-19 was a painful reminder of this for Carol when the in-person fitness classes she was taking with another organization abruptly ended. The resulting lack of physical activity started to cause Carol pain and swelling in her legs and knees. As Carol described it, “Without any exercise, I was going down. I fell into a funk until I met Lee.” Lee Marrison is the Exercise Instructor and Coordinator of Community Care Durham’s Exercise and Falls Prevention Program.
If you’re not familiar with CCD, it is a not-for-profit organization providing a variety of essential services to low-income individuals living within our community. Among these services is the Exercise and Falls Prevention program. With a focus on maintaining one’s independence and reducing the risk of falls. This program provides free exercise classes both virtually and in person to Older Adults living in and around the Durham Region. A variety of virtual classes are streaming daily, Monday through Friday. CCD hopes to resume in-person classes, pandemic dependent, in the near future.
In February of 2021, Carol registered and started participating in virtual fitness classes streamed by CCD. Although she has tried just about every class available, Carol really enjoys the aerobic-based Moving and Grooving class, flexibility-focused Chair exercises, and a full body strength training class called Fun and Fitness. Keeping active is important to Carol and helps her to maintain both her physical fitness and mental well-being. Now that the warmer weather is here, Carol, with her green thumb, spends much of her time in the garden at her Newcastle home. A testament to Carol’s hard work, and the effectiveness of these exercise classes, is her ease in completing her gardening activities this year. As Carol puts it, “you can build strength through these classes, and that is huge at our age.”
The yard work and gardening she needed help with last year, she can now do independently and with much more ease. In addition to her physical improvements, Carol enjoys the social aspect of these group classes, and especially during the pandemic. She feels, “it gives you something to look forward to every day, a reason to get up, do your hair because you’re going to be seen by others.”
With restrictions on social gatherings and social isolation a real issue for older adults during the pandemic, these classes have provided many a much-needed social avenue. Carol has enjoyed being part of a group again, meeting new people, and socializing with others like herself living within our community.
Similar to Carol’s experience, new participant Jane Vollick paints another vivid positive picture of CCD’s Exercise and Falls Prevention program.
Jane, a former resident of Hamilton, Ontario, moved to Port Perry in April to be closer to family. Being new to the area, she felt alone. Due to the pandemic, she was unable to meet new people and make new social connections. After joining the Port Perry Seniors Club, an exercise and falls prevention service location, Jane started participating in every class she could fit into her schedule. Virtual Fitness Classes allowed her to meet new people and connect with her new community. As expressed by Jane, “In a time where we’re highly isolated, some people are alone, there’s a real pseudo-sense, I’m still in connection, I’m active in the community.” Jane, a Registered Psychotherapist, admitted to being a very active person throughout her lifetime. She got most of her 10,000 steps a day walking her granddaughter to school. But back at her home office, she sits a lot and was looking for a way to connect with her new community and get some exercise.
The online Exercise and Falls Prevention program was a perfect fit, checking all the boxes. Classes are fun and give Jane a feeling of normalcy again. She explained, “It’s good to keep a routine going, so for people who maybe aren’t working as much, the classes give a sense of orientation of time and day of the week as well, which really helps to keep our wits about us.
We’re hard-wired to be connected, even if you’re a more solitary kind of person, and if there was any time to see us clutching at connection, it has been through this.” So far, Jane hasn’t had the opportunity to meet anyone face-to-face but has expressed a feeling that when she logs into an online class, the smiles and the comradery gives her hope. As Jane puts it, “For me, it feels like an opportunity to stay in touch, and so when I get to the point where we can meet in person, there will be familiar faces.”
Now COVID-19 restrictions are starting to be lifted, Jane said she’s still going to participate in the online classes. Most group fitness schedules are reduced in the summer months, but online classes remain the same. They are so convenient for everyone, as they can be taken anywhere, even if you’re away at your cottage.
If you would like to find out more information about the Exercise and Falls Prevention program, please visit our program page:
https://www.communitycaredurham.on.ca/services/exercise-falls-prevention-classes/. Contact us at 905-697-4408 or by e-mail at: email@example.com.