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Go4Life inspires positive fitness change in older adults

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Getting back in shape can be hard for someone at any age, but for those over the age of 50 living a sedentary lifestyle, it can be particularly challenging to get the motivation and education to get back out there.

Joseph Proctor, a civilian in 96th Logistics Readiness Squadron, was one of those individuals who saw a need for positive change. He decided to turn his lifestyle around when he saw an announcement for one of Eglin’s newest health and fitness programs, Go4Life®.

“It appealed to my desire to get moving and try to improve my general fitness,” said the 60-year-old. “The program is geared toward people over 50, who are not active, but can get a referral from their doctor to start a non-aerobic exercise program.”

Eglin’s Go4Life program is based on a federal campaign developed by the National Institute on Aging. For eight weeks, participants meet twice a week for hands-on sessions that increase strength, balance and flexibility. Participants perform exercises with dumbbells such as, overhead presses and bicep curls. In addition, they practice balance movements and stretches for all of the major muscle groups.

For Proctor, this program has been particularly life-changing.

“It is the most beneficial two hours I spend on myself each week, both mentally and physically,” he said. “It is an excellent starting point for someone who wants to make a change from a sedentary lifestyle. I’ve seen other people in this program fighting through pain and discomfort to get started on the road to better physical health. It has inspired me to keep working harder.”

Alison DeCaro, the health promotion coordinator for the 96th Medical Group, piloted this program at Eglin in January, because she saw a need that wasn’t being fulfilled.

“Eglin has over 10,500 medical beneficiaries enrolled over the age of 50, and yet we didn’t have a program specifically targeted to this group,” she said. “Research shows that exercise can help people stay healthy, enhance independence and prevent some of the chronic diseases associated with aging. By helping this age group become more physically fit and improve balance, we can reduce the incidences of falls and improve function.”

To measure the results of the program, each participant takes part in a senior fitness test both pre- and post- program.

“Go4Life provides training to ensure people are performing the exercises correctly, which gives them confidence to continue exercising once they have completed the eight weeks,” said DeCaro. “Participants can expect to increase their strength and flexibility and see improvements in balance. The improvements correlate with improved functional fitness and quality of life.”

The first session of Go4Life wraps up at the end of February, and for Proctor, the program has been a significant success.

“Each session is a full hour of constant movement, and while it may seem lightweight for some, it is designed as a starting point, not an end-all,” said Proctor. “Alison knows what she’s doing and pushes us to do the best we can without hurting ourselves. I would never be able to thank Alison enough for bringing this program to Eglin.”

Eglin is the first military base to pilot this program, and more specifically, they are the first to offer this program in a clinical setting with pre- and post- assessments, according to the National Institute on Aging.

The next session of Go4Life will begin in March. Currently, the program is available for Tricare medical beneficiaries and VA patients who receive a referral from their primary care manager. For more information, call the Health Promotion Flight at 883-8020.

 

Article by Sara Vidoni
Team Eglin Public Affairs

Above: Joseph Proctor performs a tricep extension during a Go4Life class Feb. 10 at Building 720 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Go4Life is an eight-week program where participants meet twice a week for hands-on sessions that increase strength, balance and flexibility. The program encourages sedentary older adults to improve their health by making physical activity a greater part of their daily lives. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

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