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Local seniors resolve to get even healthier

Ecumen Scenic Shores resident Gladys Krall, 99, has seen her fitness level increase over the past few months after she began participating in the Live 2 B Healthy program. (New-Chronicle photo by Jamey Malcomb)

When people groggy from a late night Thursday wake up on New Year's Day, they will be at step one of enforcing that traditional New Year's resolution of getting in better shape or shedding a few pounds, but not for many seniors at Ecumen Scenic Shores in Two Harbors.

Many residents at the assisted living and nursing home have participated in the Live 2 B Healthy exercise program since it began in September. The classes not only focus on improving balance, strength and flexibility, it also aims to be a good time for the growing number of participants and encourage social interaction.

Gladys Krall has attended the classes since they started and says she hasn't missed a single session, which occur three days a week. Krall, 99, said that after she began attending the classes she has had less pain and more flexibility over the past few months. Some of the exercises are simple, but mimic everyday activities, like starting a lawn mower or even throwing a punch. Krall does them all and has seen her fitness level increase as a result as she approaches her 100th birthday in 2016.

"It's a great class and it keeps you in good shape," Krall said. "This is a good place to have the classes. A lot of people come and exercise, even if they can't do the whole thing, they do a part of it."

Ecumen executive director Steve Baukner echoed Krall's thoughts, saying the residents at the facility have embraced the Live 2 B Healthy program. Attendance has more than doubled since it began in September, rising from six in the first weeks to between 16 and 18 regularly attending the classes now.

"The program has expanded, it started out with a few and now we have more and more residents coming out to the program," Baukner said. "People would never come out of their room or would sit and watch TV all day, but now we have people coming out just to do the exercises. That's the first step to get them more socialization in their lives."

Baukner said when the program started, the staff were literally begging people to come but the dynamic has now been reversed. The residents are enjoying the classes and are asking to come out and participate.

"The communities that we serve (including Ecumen) report that their residents are happier, as well as healthier, as the result of participation in our classes," Cory Czepa, president and founder of Live 2 B Healthy, said in a press release.

Live 2 B Healthy will be doing a physical fitness assessment in January for participants to show them how far they've come over the past few months, but Baukner said he doesn't need a formal assessment to see the residents' progress. Residents' are getting around better, with some using their feet to propel their wheelchairs, instead of pushed around or pushing the wheels with their arms.

"It may not sound like a lot, but that's huge," Baukner said. "One person said I can feel the burn in my legs, so they are actually getting the exercise they want."

Baukner went on to explain that even though the classes are full right now, there is room to expand to larger rooms in the assisted living portion of Ecumen. The Live 2 B Healthy classes are available free to residents, their families and seniors in the Two Harbors community as a service of Scenic Shores. Classes are available Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The skilled nursing class meets from 9-9:45 a.m. and the assisted living class meets from 10-10:45 a.m. For more information contact Ecumen at 834-8374.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle in August 2015. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and previously worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. He is the beat writer for the Lake County Board of Commissioners, Lake Superior School District board of education and high school sports in Lake County. 

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