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Seniors learn about key to
longer, healthier life    
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[FEB. 2, 2004]  In a presentation at The Oasis center this week, seniors learned more about the importance of fitness in keeping a healthy balance in one's life. Jan Dickerson, who manages The Fitness Balance, emphasized that the human body is built for movement and that when it stops moving the body falls apart. She said that activity on a recurring and regular basis is a deterrent to various diseases.

Dickerson believes that our society is inundated by television, magazines and tabloids that give people quick tips on how they should take care of their health. Much of this mass-produced advice pushes people to lose weight in one way or another. The popular consensus being marketed delivers a backward message that you will feel better if you look better.

The problem is that when people use some of the diets that are currently being promoted, they may lose weight, but at the same time they may be eliminating vitamins and minerals that their body needs. This can lead to other problems for the body.

Dickerson points out that health is oriented in activity not in vision. People should not think of how they will look. They should simply think about how to take care of their body. Although weight may put pressure on the heart, a person can be heavy and still be healthy.

Exercise and frame of mind are very important to health. People do not need get-healthy-quick plans. All it takes is common sense. There are many ways for people in the Lincoln area to be active and to live healthier lives. People walk at the Lincoln Recreational Center, there is a Curves for women in Lincoln, and aquatic classes are available. Dickerson said that all of these are good ways to maintain one's health.

The Fitness Balance provides a good, balanced way to do so by offering several different approaches to maintaining one's health. The Fitness Balance philosophy is for fitness professionals to provide clients with the best science-based advice and information available, a safe environment, and prudent instruction. Practitioners must foster an atmosphere that promotes health-enhancing activity.

The Fitness Balance, located at 125 N. Sangamon St., is a complete gym with free weights, strength training machines, treadmills, bands, fit-ball, cycles, elliptical and smith machines.

At The Fitness Balance a wide array of services are offered. The services range from yoga, core training and muscular fitness to FIT4. FIT4 places its emphasis on range of motion, gentle strength and flexibility, and stamina.

The emphasis in the yoga classes is on flexibility, strength and endurance. Currently, 17 classes on yoga are offered during the week, including one for men.

Core places its emphasis on torso musculature with Pilates exercises. W.o.W., or Women on Weights, provides instruction for safe, effective strength training.

Diane Meyrick and Mary Shattuck are also instructors at The Fitness Balance. The classes are taught on a weekly basis. For more information and a schedule, stop by The Fitness Balance or call (217) 735-4463.

The Fitness Balance also provides allied services. A registered dietician is available by appointment for people seeking advice for balancing dietary intake. Body composition and weight management advice is also available. Only the most current, evidence-based advice for weight control and fitness improvement is offered.


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Personal training is also available at The Fitness Balance. This training is done by appointment. The personal training can include technique instruction, home exercise or strength workouts, post-rehab or post-therapy exercise, and individual, goal-oriented training. Personal training addresses the physical domain of health: muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardio-respiratory fitness, body composition and flexibility.

Dickerson, who has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology from Illinois State University and is a certified exercise instructor and certified weight trainer, emphasized that a regular routine of exercise and common sense will lead to a longer, healthier life.

Men and women lose a certain percentage of their strength each year after they reach the age of 45. They lose muscle mass and bone strength. Some of the common ailments of aging, such as osteoporosis, back problems and broken hips, can be greatly decreased if people take steps to counteract the loss of strength that occurs.

People who are not active are most likely to experience problems. For example, people who break their hips hardly ever regain fitness. This is because their bodies become imbalanced when they become inactive and they lose their strength.

However, this trail of decline can be avoided. If you maintain your feet and leg strength by remaining active, you can prevent falls. Staying active will also maintain your flexibility in your knees and legs. Those people who do not remain active will lose that flexibility and will progressively lose their ability to use all of their joints as they age.

Exercises such as stretching and stressing the muscles strengthen the bone. Abdominal and back exercises are also very important. Dickerson also stressed that people must balance their strength programs. If you do one side of your joints, you should also do the other side.

There is an old saying that an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure. The Fitness Balance offers people in the Lincoln area an opportunity to utilize professional expertise in planning a fitness plan that best fits their individual needs.

In Lincoln the Fitness Balance, the Lincoln Park District and Curves all provide programs, equipment and a place for people to go to participate in physical activity that will help their bodies to remain healthy and active as they age.

Lincoln College also provides a lap swim from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. for a small fee each semester.

Dickerson says that common sense is all that it takes for people to have a healthy, balanced life. If you spend a little time in exercise and physical activity now, you won't have to spend a lot of time with bad health later. Stay active and live a life of quality and health.

[Don Todd]

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