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As we prepare to enjoy a few more calories this holiday season, we'll need to exercise a little more too.

Staying fit is important at any age, but especially as we grow older. Some seniors are finding the right balance with Pilates.

"I started doing it for balance and then I noticed so much strength in my core that it's helped my posture and I know it’s good for Osteoporosis because of your bones," said Susan Jenkins, 64, who said her first time to try Pilates was about a month ago. 

Experts say it can be helpful in the prevention of osteoporosis because it helps with the elongation of the spine.

"Our main focus is core we want to really strengthen not just the abdominal area the whole core. So when people think of core they think of just abs it helps to protect the spine," said Laiken Hilton, instructor at Club Pilates which officially opens next week,

Another believer in Pilates is 68-year-old Chrisy Bickham, a trained dancer. She started after she tore her ACL 2 years ago, leaving her with limited exercise options.

"You can go and do floor work in a lot of places a lot of gyms have that but this is a completely different feeling," Bickham said.

It's different because most of the work is done on a Reformer machine like this, with tension springs to provide resistance.

"It's basically laying down which is why Joseph Pilates invented it," says Hilton, "He had a lot of people injured in the war and so they were in a hospital bed and he took the springs out from under the bed and propped them up above so that they could still work out even having an injury."

Bickham says there's no discomfort to her knee plus she's strengthening other muscles and joints.

"Like a lot of people my age I may be strong with arms and legs but the middle. You have to really work hard to make that strong," Bickham said.

That's important because as we age we lose muscle strength and joint flexibility. Couple that with a loss in bone density and the problem is compounded with fractures.

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Jenkins says, "It is a lot of fun and you get in your zone you really don't even realize that you're working hard. Especially in the cardio class when she really gets our cardio up you really don't realize you're working hard and she's telling you what to do you don't have to think of what to do next."

The National Institute on Aging recommends four main types of exercise for seniors.

  • Some type of Aerobic activity to build endurance.
  • Weight bearing exercise for keeping your muscles strong.
  • Balance to prevent falls.
  • Flexibility to keep your body limber.

Pilates covers all four areas. Jenkins says she noticed a difference in her core and balance after the first two or three classes.

There are different types of Pilates classes. Not all use a Reformer. But for someone who's older this may be the safest approach.

Swimming, walking, biking and yoga are other types of exercises recommended for older adults. And they each have their benefits.

It's important to choose what's best for you. But, like Nike, Jenkins encourages others by saying, "Just do it."

Bickham enjoys working at her own pace. "But it does so much stretch-wise and some of the classes your soaking wet when you're through so there's some aerobics involved in it," she said.

From slowing the progression of Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Arthritis, experts say Pilates even helps with stroke recovery.

"I tell people it’s the fountain of youth it helps with a bunch of different things," says Hilton.

And Bickham says she would recommend it for anyone her age.

Remember it’s important to talk to you doctor before starting any new exercise program. Club Pilates will hold its grand opening Dec. 1.


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