Eat healthy — check. Get aerobic exercise — check. Do strength training — not so much.

The loss of muscle mass can sneak up on us without warning. At some point, we realize we can’t do the things we used to, but also don’t know how to counter the process. University of Missouri Extension has launched Stay Strong, Stay Healthy to help adults regain strength while improving their balance, flexibility and overall health.

“Adults start to lose muscle mass, even as early as our 30s. And in our 50s, it starts to accelerate,” said K-State Research and Extension Family and Consumer Science Specialist Sharolyn Jackson. However, older adults are sometimes reluctant to start strengthening activities to counter the effects of aging on their bodies. The idea of going to a gym or not knowing the proper exercises to do at home can keep people from starting.

“We’re excited to offer Stay Strong, Stay Healthy in Phelps County,” said MU Extension Nutrition and Health Specialist Rachel Buenemann, who coordinates the program in Phelps County. It originated at Tufts University and was initially designed for women. The University of Missouri adapted it for men and women.

The next course starts Feb. 3 at the Rolla Nutrition Site, 1440 Forum Drive, Rolla, MO 65401 from 9 a.m. to 10 am. Participants who self-identify as eligible for the supplemental nutrition assistance program will enroll with no-cost for 16 sessions. To learn more about the program you may contact Rachel Buenemann at (573) 458-6260 or phelpsco@missouri.edu

Participants in Stay Strong, Stay Healthy meet for one-hour sessions, twice a week for eight weeks. Activities include warm-up exercises, strengthening exercises with and without weights, and cool-down stretches. Class members are encouraged to do the exercises on their own once more per week. Weights will be provided on location for the program.  

Post-menopausal women can lose 1 to 2 percent of their bone mass annually, as reported by Buenemann, who noted that research has shown that strength training restores bone density and reduces the risk of fractures among women aged 50 to 70 years.

Other benefits of strength training include a decrease in arthritis pain, weight maintenance, and a reduction in the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Stress management and improvement in sleep quality and overall physical vitality are other potential benefits.

“[This course] helped with mobility [and] helped with my general health” said a previous Phelps County participant who added that she’s continued to do the exercises since going through the training and has improved her lower body strength, particularly.

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