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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Active seniors show they have the moves to keep fit in new URI video series SeniorCise program begins airing on Cox Cable 3 this week

KINGSTON, R.I., -- January 6, 2000 -- Move over Jane Fonda. Step aside Cindy Crawford.

Make room for Ruth Miller, Evelyn Vanesse, Mary LaMake and Jeannette McElroy, all senior exercise stars from Warwick, in a series of new videos produced by the University of Rhode Island Health Promotion Partnership Aging Team. Starting this week and running through January, the series airs on Cox Cable Channel 3 Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and Fridays at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The SeniorCise program is designed to help seniors find "a path to health, independence and well-being."

Developed in collaboration with the Rhode Island Prevention Coalition, the three videos feature physically active seniors in group exercise settings guided by experts.

Sandra Saunders, URI assistant professor of dental hygiene and director of and narrator of the SeniorCise project, said the program is designed for group use in senior centers or individual use. Now it's also available on Cox Cable 3.

Vanesse, one of the seniors featured on the tapes, is a believer in their effectiveness. "I feel much better," she says in the taped interview.

LaMake agrees, saying, "It's very good for the legs, and I enjoy the girls in the group."

Barbara Cole adds: "I love to exercise. It helps my arthritis very much... It gives me a lift. After I do it twice a day in my apartment, it helps my legs, my breathing."

The tapes are a result of a two-year project run by URI. With a goal of developing a community model to increase physical activity among seniors, URI faculty and students from nursing, pharmacy, food science and nutrition and other disciplines worked together as an interdisciplinary team. As part of the project, intensive group exercise programs were piloted at five senior centers, Dexter Manor in Providence; Sparrows Point I in Warwick; Peace Dale House in Peace Dale; Anthony House, in Portsmouth; Meadowbrook Terrace in Warwick.

Student and peer volunteers served as exercise leaders and helped design and test the SeniorCise program, which also involves educational posters and booklets to promote better health through increased physical activity.

"This is the vision of the partnership concept in action-faculty and students working together with seniors to make lives better," said Phillip G. Clark, URI professor of gerontology and director of the URI Program in Gerontology and Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center.

West Warwick's Faith Lees, a URI graduate student in human development with a concentration in gerontology, was an instructor for the series. She said it was difficult to get seniors motivated at first, "but as time went on, they could see that exercise was very beneficial, not only for physical well-being but also for social well-being. People would remark on how they lived in same building for 18 years and didn't know each other," Lees said.

Many of the seniors Lees met are continuing the program and have bought their own weights. "Personally, I found it very rewarding. We became friends and they became very interested in me," said the URI student.

"Many said they lost weight, slept better and were more flexible."

"This program had an impact on people, but our research showed we need more customized interventions to help people remain committed to exercise programs," Clark said, noting the video project laid the foundation for a $2.8 million federal study being headed by Clark and URI in East Providence. The study will be based on a successful behavior change model developed at URI by Professor James Prochaska to help individuals lead healthier lives.

Carol Garber, an exercise physiologist with The Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, in Pawtucket, and the vice chair of the Rhode Island Prevention Coalition, said more than 60 percent of American older adults don't get enough physical activity to maintain good health. "SeniorCise is a proven model to help seniors stay well," she said. "Health benefits of regular physical activity are clear: regular exercise helps maintain the ability to live independently and reduces the risk of falling and fracturing bones. In addition, exercise helps reduce the risk of dying from coronary health disease and of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes."

Each 30-minute SeniorCise video outlines a component of a community-based physical activity program. Tape 1 provides an overview of the series and a short exercise session; Tape 2 features seated exercises at Meadowbrook Terrace and Tape 3 features standing exercises at Sparrows Point I. In addition to the broadcasts, each tape is available at $15. Checks should be made out to the University of Rhode Island and sent to: the Geriatric Education Center, White Hall, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, R.I. 02881.


For Further Information: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116


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