The Benefits

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PHOTO left to right: Deborah Ottinger, Volunteer Instructor; Dolores Dumond, Theresa Babin

Missing from photo: Danielle Leblanc, Volunteer Instructor; Diane Ayoob, Carol Belanger, Marilyn Plourde

Fort Kent ~ Twice a week, a group of smiling individuals is seen in the halls of Forest Hill warming up before starting a class which supports health and wellness. Last May, Northern Maine Medical Center (NMMC) partnered with the RSVP Volunteer Program to train volunteer instructors to offer the free Bone Builder class for seniors.

Bone Builders is a fitness program for people age fifty and older that focuses on balance, strength training and has an educational component that includes such topics as fall prevention, osteoporosis and nutrition. One in two women and one in five men will suffer a debilitating fracture due to osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak, brittle and more likely to fracture. Bone density peaks at about age thirty and then begins a slow and gradual decline as a normal part of the aging process.
The exercises used in the program were developed at Tufts University and are the same at every Bone Builders site around the country. The evidence-based program is an osteoporosis prevention program which can help the body to increase bone density and reverse the effects of osteoporosis. The classes are intended to help seniors make changes that will truly help keep them safe and healthy while also ensuring that the program itself does not increase stress or cause pain. The program starts off very gently and builds gradually as the participant’s strength increases. The gentle and slow Bone Builder exercise program stresses bones; stimulated by this stress, bone density has been shown to increase over time. In addition, the sessions provide socialization and camaraderie. Dolores Dumond said, “I find that I have so much more energy since I started the class last Spring.” Dumond also said she finds it easier to participate in the aerobic exercise class that she is also taking on a weekly basis. Instructor Deb Ottinger said she has seen benefits in increased flexibility in her joints, particularly her knees.

The class currently has open slots and is accepting new participants. A medical release and liability waiver are required to participate in the program. For more information on eligibility, contact Joanne Fortin at 207-834-1353.

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