SNAP-Ed health educators at the Poe Center for Health Education have partnered with congregate meal sites in their region to help keep their participants healthy and moving. Through a 16-week evidence-based exercise program entitled Stay Strong Stay Healthy (SSSH), participants develop the fitness, flexibility, and balance needed to live independently longer. The hour-long course is held twice a week and is designed to make participants feel comfortable regardless of their current fitness levels. In addition to physical activity, participants receive nutrition information and recipes for snacks, which are sampled during classes.
Increasing strength and flexibility for older adults is critical in preventing falls and maintaining independent living. During the COVID pandemic, many adults who were used to coming to centers every day to eat a hot meal, see friends, and participate in activities were forced to stay home.
Programs were able to resume after implementing several COVID precautions including mask wearing, social-distancing, and increased indoor ventilation. One series had to be paused during the Omicron variant outbreak and where necessary, activities were modified to accommodate mask wearing. Thanks to the COVID safety precautions, the health education team was able to lift participants spirits by safely offering some fitness, food, and fun! Participants reported looking forward to our sessions, having fun, and feeling stronger as a result. They also reported enjoying the recipe samples, recipe cards, handouts, and a new colorful cookbook.
“These exercises help keep me moving!”
Quotes from Participants
- GW says she was under a lot of stress and did not get out as much before as she does now. “Exercise has helped lower my stress and keeps me moving…I enjoy being with other people.”
- EM states, “I enjoy coming on Tuesdays and Thursday for exercises, especially upper body. I also walk five days a week. All this helps me stay active.”
- DW says she “enjoys gathering with friends and others. I feel better since I’ve been exercising.”
- PB says, “I had knee surgery and exercises are helping a lot. I’m not as stiff.”
- AW, who had knee and hip surgery previously says, “these exercises help keep me moving.”
- Melody McGee, director of Coats Senior Center states, “The community partnership that Poe offered was a light in the darkness during this trying, challenging time for these senior citizens.”
- Brenda Beatty, a registered dietitian working in SNAP-Ed states, “One of the things I enjoy most about teaching the class is watching participants improve their quality of life and ability to live independently even longer. I also enjoy the fact that it’s not just about nutrition and physical activity; but also about providing an opportunity for folks to enjoy fellowship and interact with each other. It’s a holistic approach to health promotion.”
Quotes are from interviews with participants from Stay Strong Stay Healthy at Halifax County Council on Aging in Enfield, NC
The Poe Center provides each participant with an exercise guide to follow so they can continue strength training at home, during and following the completion of the series. Evaluations are conducted at the end of the series to determine program success. SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework indicators include ST1, ST3, and MT3.
Submitted by Rachel Pohlman, Poe Center for Health Education, Raleigh NC 27610