Older adults in Malheur County build endurance and strength through exercise programs

Malheur County faces a significant health challenge with the highest levels of inactivity in Oregon among older adults. The sedentary lifestyle prevalent among older adults contributes to various health issues, impacting physical well-being and increasing the risk of chronic conditions. Addressing this need requires the implementation of targeted, evidenced-based programs designed to encourage regular physical activity, enhance mobility and improve overall health for the county’s older residents.

In response, Oregon State University Extension Service in Malheur County established a partnership with the Malheur Health Department to promote Walk With Ease and Better Bones & Balance.

Walk With Ease is an evidence-based physical activity program developed by the Arthritis Foundation that is proven to reduce the pain associated with arthritis, increase physical activity, decrease pain and fatigue and increase physical abilities and walking endurance.

Better Bones & Balance, developed at OSU, is a community-based fall and fracture risk-reduction exercise program. The program incorporates lower body resistance training with weighted vests, impact and balance exercises.

OSU Extension and the Malheur Health Department trained three adults to teach the programs and recruited and enrolled participants.

As a result, nine participants completed a six-week Walk With Ease program involving thrice-weekly sessions. They transitioned seamlessly to a self-directed walking program and beginning Better Bones & Balance program. The participants reported significant improvements in strength, mobility and overall well-being.

“Because of this program, I am now strong enough to get up off the ground by myself,” a participant said.

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