'Turning Bone into Stone'

Doctors and communities must encourage older Americans to adopt healthier lifestyles, particularly in the area of nutrition, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NMU health and fitness management major Teresia Leckson-Lipinski was a step ahead of the CDC's recommendation. By the time the study garnered national media coverage, Leckson-Lipinski was already immersed in a 12-week exercise and nutrition program she developed for the Forsyth Senior Center in Gwinn.

 

Her "Ageless Agates" program with it's motto of "We're turning bone into stone" was part of a fall-semester community health internship through the HPER department. She modeled it after a similar "Eating Better and Moving More" program.

 

The nutrition component consisted of 15-minute lessons on topics such as consuming five fruits and vegetables per day, reading labels, keeping adequately hydrated, ensuring proper calcium intake, and exploring the benefits of meditation. For exercises, Leckson-Lipinski led participants through five minutes of walking, followed by stretching and flexibility workouts.   

 

"It was my first time setting up something like this," she reflected. "The goal was to offer the seniors of Forsyth Township an opportunity to empower themselves with information and ideas on how to eat better and keep moving, no matter what their age. Their response was positive overall. By the end, many said they felt better and were able to move easier. They also reported decreased blood pressure and other benefits."

 

Mary Jane Tremethick (HPER) is responsible for supervising the department's community health internship. She said the type of placement is driven by the student's interests.

 

"The interns spend a semester applying classroom learning in a real-world setting," Tremethick said. "Teresia enjoys working with older adults, so this was a good fit for her. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle allows individuals to remain independent longer by reducing the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. Activity increases muscle strength and endurance. It also keeps older adults mobile and flexible, which are important factors with aging."

 

Leckson-Lipinski and Forsyth Senior Center Director Julie Shaw wrote a successful grant application to Blue Cross and Blue Shield to cover the costs of the program.

 

"It was a valuable learning experience," said the NMU senior. "I hope to make a career out of working with the senior population after I graduate in May."

 

Northern also provides programming to meet the needs of older adults, who may participate at no cost in senior swimming and aerobics classes.

 

 

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Updated: October 26, 2005

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