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A yoga mat and dumbbells for a fitness class.

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. — Rain or shine, the senior citizens of Conecuh County are flocking to the local wellness center for exercise classes facilitated by staff from their county Extension office.

Karla Robinson, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System coordinator for Conecuh County, said Seniors on the Go is a program that her office committed to teaching each Tuesday and Thursday year-round. Two years and nearly 200 classes in, the Conecuh County Extension office has built a solid following in the community.

“We knew that we wanted to offer something for senior citizens, but we knew that if we offered it sporadically our attendance would be low,” Robinson said. “In the beginning, we decided that they needed a consistent meeting time and place. With the exception of the Christmas holiday, we’ve been there each week, and the seniors have, too.”

Conecuh County Extension partners with the Evergreen Medical Center’s Health and Wellness Center, using their gym to host this program. Seniors on the Go is a free program, and attendees do not have to have a membership to the wellness center to participate.

Seniors on the Go

Conecuh County senior citizens participate in Seniors on the Go exercise classRobinson and Bridget Johnson, the Conecuh County Extension office administrator, work with community partners to bring in programming for each class. Program topics have included hospice volunteer services, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programing-Education, physical therapy and others. As a fun part of her job, Robinson serves as the DJ for the class, working on popular song choices to make seated aerobics and physical fitness fun for attendees.

“We have a wide range of ages in our classes, so we try to make sure our exercises are beneficial to whatever situation they find themselves in,” Robinson said. “We work on balance, picking up objects, sitting and standing. Seniors also do spin classes with mobile ellipticals.”

The results from the classes have been positive. Many attendees have experienced better balance, a decrease in shaking and confidence in their ability to remain independent at home. Robinson said she has seen some seniors add 100 squats (from standing to sitting position) to the end of their workouts.

“We consistently have seniors in their 90s, but we also have individuals who are in their 50s,” Robinson said. “Their favorite activity is the seated cupid shuffle using resistance bands.”

Building Community, Fostering Relationships

Conecuh County senior citizens participate in Seniors on the Go exercise class.Robinson said the benefits of the Seniors on the Go program have been numerous.

“By attending our classes twice per week, people are building relationships that they wouldn’t have made otherwise,” Robinson said. “They are making friends and community connections. They are also telling others about our programs and promoting Extension’s community efforts in their places of worship and among their friend groups.”

Robinson said it has been rewarding to see physical changes and increases in confidence, as well as the friendships that have formed during exercise class each week. She also said the classes are heartwarming for both those conducting the programming and those participating in it.

“It is so rewarding to be able to do something that you can see making a difference in the lives of others on a weekly basis,” Robinson said. “It makes my heart happy to help our seniors.”

More Information

The popularity of the Seniors on the Go classes has grown so much that Robinson said there may soon be a need for more space to accommodate the regular program attendees. Watch for Seniors on the Go happenings on the Conecuh County – Alabama Extension Facebook page. Learn more about Alabama Extension by visiting www.aces.edu.