Fitness program recognizes National Kidney Month year-round

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 26, 2014

 Local senior citizens take part in a free Enhance Fitness program at the Jermaine Jackson Community Center in Mount Clemens March 18.

Local senior citizens take part in a free Enhance Fitness program at the Jermaine Jackson Community Center in Mount Clemens March 18.

Photo by Deb Jacques

MOUNT CLEMENS — March’s days are numbered, and for those at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, that means the end of National Kidney Month is near.

But that doesn’t mean the spirit of the month will be lost until next year.

Kristie King, specialist for the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan’s free Enhance Fitness program, said the senior citizen-geared exercise class has been ongoing since 2008.

“The program promotes regular exercise, which is known to decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis and heart disease,” King said. “Enhance Fitness is offered at 500 locations across the country, and they have all been very well received.”

The local program has been offered since August  at 11:30 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday at the Jermaine Jackson Community Center in Mount Clemens. The hour-long classes are led by an instructor certified by the National Kidney Foundation.

According to the foundation, Enhance Fitness classes allow seniors to improve their health and maintain their independence so that they may age in place longer.

Enhance Fitness is a physical activity program designed to improve functional fitness and well-being. Functional fitness means keeping strong, balanced and flexible to retain the ability to do the normal daily activities of life.

King said Enhance Fitness is, most importantly, an evidence-based program, which means that it has been tested and studied to show its effectiveness for older adults. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults should do at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity exercise weekly, and that they must be given opportunities to enjoy physical fitness activities that are specially designed for their needs.

The National Kidney Foundation reports that around 26 million Americans suffer from kidney disease, and older people are at increased risk.

King said that keeping healthy and active, and eating a good diet, are all key to reducing the risk of kidney disease.

That’s why the focus of Enhance Fitness classes is so imperative, she added.

The classes focus on balance, strength, endurance and flexibility exercises, and they can be adjusted to all levels of fitness.

“People do it at their own pace; there is no jumping in the air, and they are never on the floor. The chairs are always an option,” King said.

The classes are made possible through a partnership between the foundation and HAP.

Chrystal Roberts, director of community relations for HAP, said Enhance Fitness isn’t just for seniors.

“A lot of … moms and daughters are taking part in these classes,” she said. “It’s a perfect combination of chair aerobics and strength training. Even those who use wheelchairs can benefit, and even if you have arthritis.”

And all equipment is offered by organizers. Those who attend classes do not need to register in advance, nor do they have to make a commitment to attend.

The Jermaine Jackson Community Center is located at 58 Orchard St. in Mount Clemens.