By Chelsea Place, Pentagram Staff WriterDecember 14, 2011
Stand on one foot, place your other foot on your knee sort of like a stork; balance hands on your hips and stay like that for a whole minute. Can't do it? Neither could a lot of people at the fourth annual senior fitness challenge Dec. 2 at the Fort Myer Fitness Center.
The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation hosted the senior fitness assessment in conjunction with the Operation Santa Toy Drive. Other events hosted for the event were a 5K run and basketball tournament.
Toys from Operation Santa went to Army Community Service to be distributed to military children.
Half the basketball court was dedicated to a six-station senior fitness assessment.
"The goal for today is to give people the chance to see what they need to work on. [That's] to give them a fair assessment," said Sylvia Garcia, DFMWR fitness coordinator. She went on to explain that seniors are reluctant to give up their homes, so it is important for them to keep up their health so they can continue to live on their own and be able to perform the tasks needed to live independently.
Going around the gym, seniors had to perform various tasks to assess their limberness and mobility. They stood on chairs, performed arm curls and had to get up from a chair, walk eight feet and return to chair in nine seconds. The group also underwent an upper body flexibility test (where they reach behind their backs, one arm over head, one arm bent back so they could touch their backs fingers) and a stork balance test.
"It's wonderful to have an opportunity to be assessed and see what I've accomplished by coming to the exercise classes [at the fitness center]," said Madeline Mocko. "I was surprised by the flexibility rating; I didn't think I was as flexible. I think the class has a lot to offer in contributing to improving flexibility."
With the goal of eight chair stands, seniors were required to fold their arms across their chest and keep their feet shoulder-width apart. The stop watch ran to 30 seconds while participants stood and sat as many times as they could. Failure to perform eight chair stands means the person could be at risk for losing the ability to do activities that depend on leg strength.
"[We] had some people that were extraordinarily flexible, but didn't have the strength to stand, and that's something they need to think about," said Garcia.
Although most participants seemed satisfied with their scores, some were a bit disappointed with the stations they didn't excel in.
"The only thing is balance," said Nancy Wenger. "Everything was good until I got to balance."
Wenger explained she already knew she had problems with balance but continues to work on it, even outside of the class offered at the fitness center.
"It gives you something to work on in the new year," said Ronald Purvis, pest controller with the Directorate of Public Works entomology shop.
With scores in hand, seniors were told what they can do to help improve their abilities in the areas they failed in outside of the fitness center. Participants were provided examples of certain stretches and activities they can take part in to increase strength, balance and flexibility.