By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
With much of the focus of healthy living centered around eating and exercise, one thing that often gets overlooked, according to a local health leader, is strength training.
The loss of muscle mass can slip up on people without warning, and at some point, this leads to the realization that bodies cannot do the things it did in the past.
The process of muscle loss can be countered, however, and to help in this strategy, last fall, Seward County’s K-State Research and Extension office launched the “Stay Strong, Stay Healthy” program to help older adults regain strength and improve balance and flexibility and overall health in the process.
The program will start a new eight-week session starting Feb. 28, and Extension Family and Consumer Science Agent Kathy Bloom said K-State had a class similar to this about 15 years ago. The class was so popular, Bloom said, that many of them are continuing.
“In fact, we have one similar to that which meets and has met for the last 12 or 13 years at the senior center,” she said. “They improved it and updated it. The other one is still excellent, but this one is updated. We got it through the University of Missouri. I was trained on it and very excited about what it can do for people.”
Bloom said the first local edition of “Stay Strong, Stay Healthy’ in the fall of 2016 was an excellent one.
“We had people from their upper 40s up into their upper 80s in the class,” she said. “The attendance was excellent. They really saw the benefits, could see the benefits in their balance and their strength. They just were very happy with the program, and we do a pre-physical evaluation and a post-physical evaluation.”
Bloom said local participants were so impressed with the results of “Stay Strong, Stay Healthy” that they wanted to continue the program.
“There’s probably six or eight of them that continue to meet after the eight-week session was over, so I think that’s a very good endorsement for the program,” she said.
Seward County’s Extension office also has the annual Walk Kansas event coming up starting in mid-March, and with other events like the recent “Maintain Don’t Gain” holiday challenge, this helps Bloom with program centered around health, which she considers a big emphasis of her work.
“These were just some fun programs and good programs that I wanted to bring to our community,” she said.
Bloom has been through the training course and is certified to teach “Stay Strong, Stay Healthy.” She explained some of what goes into getting trained to lead the class.
“You have to attend a training and be trained thoroughly, and there’s a lot of paperwork,” she said. “It’s all research-based. We actually like to see the results and see how the program is improving people’s health. We do the pre- and post-physical assessment and have pre- and post-evaluations that the participants take. It’s a very strong, solid program, and it’s been around for a while and just keeps getting better and better.”
The first “Stay Strong, Stay Healthy” class meets at 4 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Liberal Senior Center at 701 N. Grant. The class will continue to meet at 4 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday through April 20 at the senior center.
Bloom said participants will do some light warm-ups and exercises followed by some strength training.
“There’s no floor exercises,” she said. “It’s all strength training. If you walk, that’s excellent. If you do different exercises, that’s good, but what is important and often overlooked is the strength training.”
From the start, Bloom said the class centers a lot on muscle building.
“We add weights,” she said. “We add ankle weights and hand weights over the time and encourage the participants to keep adding more weights so they don’t ever reach their goal. They continue to add weights. We start very, very low, and those that feel like they can add weights, they do. Those that don’t, that’s fine. We just really encourage all participants to work at their own level and not compare themselves to each other, but to themselves.”
Bloom said the goal of “Stay Strong, Stay Healthy” is to improve health and quality of life.
“It works for anyone at any fitness level because we tailor the weights to each person,” she said.
There is a $20 fee to sign up for the class. Scholarships are available. The registration deadline is Friday, and class size is limited. To sign up, call the Extension office at 620-624-5604, e-mail
or go by the office at 1081 Stadium Road in Liberal.