To counter the effects of osteoporosis, or any thinning of the bone, one needs to keep the body and muscles strong to support the areas most affected by the disease.
Diet is a factor right along with exercise, which sometimes is the last thing a person with the disease wants to do. Usually they fear falling and fracturing bones, especially the hip, according to Nancy Jo Ricca, a certified, insured personal and group trainer for older adults. She will teach an Osteo-Fitness exercise class through the Sedona Parks and Recreation Department beginning Sunday, Nov. 15.
“People diagnosed with bone loss want to stay strong and prevent further bone loss and/or any fracture. Fracture prevention is what these exercises are aimed at,” Ricca said.
In women, bone density loss shows up around the age of 50. In men, the age is around 70. Osteoporosis easily causes fractures.
“Not only does the fracture hurt, it causes the fear of falling and refracturing. These people are so afraid of fracture they don’t participate in any activities, which exacerbates the problem because their muscles and joints lose their strength and ability to support their bones,” Ricca said.
The exercises are simple, easy, fun to do and highly effective to build strength. Even people who are weak or have already fractured bones can do them. Many can be done from a sitting position. Ricca uses light weights and resistance bands for the weight bearing exercises.
“They really work and are so safe I can take anyone in any shape and have them exercise,” Ricca said. “People gain strength, gain a better sense of balance and gain more muscle mass.”
Even the oldest and most frail of people can increase muscle mass to help protect their bones from fracture. Several of the exercises work specifically on the hip, she said.
“I work them from the toes all the way up,” Ricca said and motioned with her hand from her feet to the top of her head.
Ricca moved back to the Verde Valley about five months ago after living in Florida for a while and doing the same work there. When she was first here she taught at Verde Valley School in the Village of Oak Creek.
“I decided about 10 years ago to start working with older adults. I studied and got my certification and started teaching classes,” Ricca said, who is also a certified post-rehabilitative exercise specialist.
The goal of the classes is to improve the physical capacities, functional fitness and overall health for the 50-plus age group. The classes will be at the Posse Grounds Park Recreation Room beginning Wednesday, Nov. 11, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. A minimum of six people are needed to have the class take place. The cost is $65 per person. Register at the parks and recreation office, 102 Roadrunner Drive, or call 282-7098.
“You have a responsibility to yourself to care for your body. Even if you have a chronic disease, you still need to care for your body so it can function,” Ricca said.
This is the first time the parks and recreation department has offered the class, but senior recreation coordinator Rachel Murdoch said it fits in with what the department is trying to do to reach out to all aspects of the community with their offerings.
“It’s a category we haven’t tried before. We thought we’d try it and see if there’s a need and some interest out there,” Murdoch said.