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Cooperative Extension, Senior Services bring new exercise program to county

A new exercise program for seniors is coming to the county in a partnership with Stanly County Senior Services and the Cooperative Extension’s Family and Consumer Sciences. 

LIFT (Lifelong Improvements through Fitness Together) is a free, eight-week, evidence-based program that promotes balance and flexibility with the goal of improving functional fitness. 

Evidence suggests that as people age, they can lose up to five pounds of muscle every decade, said Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent Hayley Cowell, who will lead the program.

She said by participating in resistance training at least twice a week, people can combat the muscle loss. 

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent Hayley Cowell will lead the classes. (Picture provided by Hayley Cowell)

There will be two information sessions about the program — 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Locust Nutrition Site (in the Locust Community Building) and 11 a.m. Thursday at the West Stanly Senior Center — followed by physical assessments. 

The classes will begin Jan. 7 and run until Feb. 27 each Tuesday (Locust Nutrition Site) and Thursday (West Stanly Senior Center) from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. 

“I’m looking forward to this program showing the class participants how much fun these Lifelong Improvements through Fitness Together sessions will be and hoping that they will continue doing what they learned in the classes at home,” Becky Weemhoff, director of Stanly County Senior Services, said.

Each class will include a warm-up, eight core strength-training exercises (most of them chair-based) and a cool down. Classes will also discuss proper nutrition and goal-setting.  

Cowell, and other extension agents around the state, went to training for the program at North Carolina A&T University in August. It was taught by agents from the Virginia Cooperative Extension, which first began the program. 

Cowell said the Cooperative Extension is also working to create a LIFT program for seniors at the E.E. Waddell Center in Albemarle. 

Though the Stanly Cooperative Extension has had nutrition and cooking programs, is has not had a fitness-focused program.

Cowell, 31, who “lives at the gym” and says her passion is fitness, is excited to work with seniors to help them improve their fitness. 

“I just hope that they see that you can work on your fitness at any level and any age and you don’t need to have any special equipment to improve your health and your fitness,” she said. 

West Stanly Senior Center is at 213 Town Center Dr. and the Locust Nutrition Site is at 101 Park Dr. (Officer Jeff Shelton Dr.).

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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