Exercise science students lead fitness program at senior center
Every Thursday for the past 10 weeks, a group of HEXS students has helped participants at the local senior center improve their strength, flexibility, and balance. The students are enrolled in Lifespan Adapted Physical Activity (EXS 444); a class that teaches students about the administration of physical education and recreation programs for people of all ages and ability levels.
The hands-on work with the Monmouth senior center is new this term. “They’re the guinea pigs,” says Dr. Jennifer Taylor-Winney, the course professor. “Feedback’s been great so far. It’s a good experience for the students and the participants.”
The students echo these sentiments. “It’s been really good practice,” says Rachel, a graduating senior who plans to become a physical therapist. “It’s expanded my horizons and changed my way of thinking,” says Eric, whose post-graduation plans include attending chiropractor school. Kailie, another PT-hopeful, agrees, “It’s been nice to work with seniors because we don’t get a ton of practice with older adults.”
They all agree it’s given them confidence in their abilities to work with people one-on-one. One student, Al, remarks, “My favorite part has been learning how to motivate someone.” Each student has been working with the same one or two participants throughout the term.
As the participants begin to arrive, the students finish setting up the room with free weights, resistance bands, and chairs. Today is the last day of class, and the “final” for the participants. They’ll be repeating the same fitness test they did on their first day to see how they’ve improved. The test involves assessments on balance, flexibility, and strength.
The seniors participating in the class have a wide range of physical fitness, so the students adapt the exercises for each individual. Many of the participants are already have an active lifestyle – doing everything from square dancing, to AquaFit, to tai-chi.
“I’ve definitely become a lot stronger, especially in my shoulders,” says Rava, one of the participants. “I got better, but I still need more practice with balance,” says another.
Each participant will go home today with a packet of exercises they can do at home and a resistance band. The final class wraps up with laughing, smiling, and hugs as the participants say goodbye to their student trainers. “My favorite part was the laughing. The exercise was good, too.” says one participant. Another comments, “I want them to come back every day!”
After the last participant leaves, Dr. Taylor-Winney leads the class in a debrief about what went well and what could go better next time. While the class is over for this group of students, Dr. Taylor-Winney hopes to repeat the program in the fall. EXS 444 is offered during Fall and Spring quarter.