The activities department at Bethesda Meadow recently launched a new program for its residents – Ballet for Seniors. The ballet-themed exercise class is taught by Vanessa Woods, a professional instructor and performer at the St. Louis Ballet. The class attracts more than 25 participants, women and men alike, each month. The session lasts 45 minutes and begins with a series of gentle warm up stretching exercises for the upper and lower body. While seated throughout, participants practice the basics of traditional classical ballet complete with the French terminology of the moves. Additionally, they learn proper breathing techniques as well as how to improve range of motion and posture. Aside from the healthy physical aspects, students seem to enjoy moving to the music with the grace and freedom their joints and muscles will allow.

image001Exercise is key to good health.

The National Institute on Aging recommends older adults be involved in programs that include exercise for endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. Ballet includes all of those and more:

  • Low Impact Cardio Endurance – Increases the heart’s ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
  • Strength –Prevents loss of bone mass, builds muscle, reduces the chances of falling.
  • Flexibility – Keeps muscles and joints supple to prevent injury and increases joint range of motion.
  • Balance –Focuses on maintaining upright posture by locating core muscles and increasing spine stability.
  • Memory Improvement – Keeps the mind sharp through sequencing movements to music in a rhythmic fashion while associating the moves to the French names.
  • Lifestyle improvement – Improved energy boosts mood, confidence and encourages a sense of community among participants.

The residents at Bethesda Meadow prove that ballet is a great way to maintain good health, improve balance and flexibility and stimulate the mind. Plus, it’s a fun way to stay active and get a great workout!

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