Every Wednesday, 25 residents of MacArthur Park Towers, an affordable senior housing community in downtown Los Angeles, meet to enjoy an hour of exercise and laughter. The group first got together to take part in an Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program, led by staff at Partners in Care Foundation. They so enjoyed the workshops, and the physical and emotional benefits it brought, that after the eight-week program ended they decided to carry on, and asked Antonia Routt to continue to lead them through their paces once a week.
Resident Kim Yon Sook explains the popularity of the class. “We could do this on our own at home by ourselves, but when we exercise together, we get energy together and have a good time. By doing this exercise we cut the time going to the doctor. We have no reason to go to the hospital like before. The exercise is not only for body health, but also the brain. We get endorphins so we become happy as well. Otherwise, seniors sit in their room and don’t get out much. But by coming here we have good friendships.”
Byung Hwa Lee agrees, adding, “Everybody enjoys what Antonia teaches us. She is very humorous and makes us laugh. She is number one teacher! Sometimes she uses the noodles, sometimes the weights, sometimes chair exercises. There’s always variety, which keeps us interested. It’s never boring.”
“Exercise helps build strength and flexibility, which reduces the chance of falls and in turn enables them to maintain their independence,” notes Antonia. “They all work very hard, so I throw in a little confusion – with the arm repetitions for example – which makes everyone laugh and adds to the positive energy that comes from the group experience. It’s inspiring to work with a group that’s so devoted and committed to their personal health.”
Commenting on the success of the program, Katheryn Howell, who coordinates all of Partners’ exercise and health self-management programs throughout LA City said, “It’s clearly had an incredibly positive impact in the lives of the community at MacArthur Park, and so it’s incredibly satisfying to see something we initiated become self-sustaining.”
For more information on attending a health self-management class please visit www.cahealthierliving.org