Forever…in motion is an exercise program for older adults throughout Saskatoon Health Region. The program is active in many rural communities. Kereen Lazurko, one of the recreation therapists who coordinates Forever…in motion, describes the experience of joining a class in Cudworth and watching a volunteer leader guide the group through a positive social and fitness experience.

The Cudworth Recreation Centre is set up with chairs around the room. The volunteer leader is busy plugging in the stereo and setting up equipment like weights and tubing. As participants casually file in, they greet each other and catch up on the latest news as they remove their outdoor gear and don their indoor shoes. Many of them are wearing their colourful Forever…in motion t-shirts.

Participants in the Forever...in motion group in Cudworth exercise at the Recreation Centre.

Participants in the Forever…in motion group in Cudworth exercise at the Recreation Centre.

Participants place their weights and tubing under their chairs to prevent tripping hazards. I can hear many different pockets of conversations and the odd chuckle here and there. Forever…in motion groups quite often have a strong sense of social cohesion—a real team type of feeling. The Forever…in motion t-shirts are popular because they act as a team jersey.

Zoria Lieffers who is a trained volunteer and leader with Forever…in motion does a good job in leading a safe and uplifting class. She provides technique and safety cues throughout as she’s demonstrating and leading the various exercises. She also incorporates various techniques to challenge the participants’ brains. Brain health is very important and to combine brain stimulation with physical activity creates a chain reaction;it helps improve a participant’s mind/body connection which in turn improves their reaction time, which can help prevent falls, which helps them remain in their own homes.

The exercise class covers all four components of a well-rounded physical activity class as recommended by Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. But Forever…in motion classes have the added benefit of the social component because visiting can take place before, during and after class. In some groups, participants take turns bringing a snack for the group to share. Research shows that the primary reason older adults participate in physical activity groups is socialization.

The participants of the Cudworth program use their time together for fitness and as a social gathering.

The participants of the Cudworth program use their time together for fitness and as a social gathering.

This day, being the last class of the month, Zoria encourages each participant to choose a favourite exercise. The group adds the exercise like links in a chain as they go around the circle. This adds to the brain exercise as participants have to remember each exercise in the chain.

When class is over, the chuckles and visiting continue as the room is cleared of equipment. As people slowly disperse into the cold, they’re ready to face the challenges of winter and have made a significant contribution to their well-being.

For more information on the Forever…in motion program, how to become a Forever…in motion site, or to volunteer as a leader in rural Saskatoon Health Region, please contact Kereen Lazurko 306-655-8150 or kereen.lazurko@saskatoonhealthregion.ca. Within the City of Saskatoon, please contact Kimberly Willison 306-655-0829 or kimberly.willison@saskatoonhealthregion.ca.