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Di and Mary Ellen

I do my exercises every morning!

Di loves to garden but only a few summers ago, a day in the dirt, fresh air and sunshine would leave her lying awake at night. “I had such pain from my bursitis, I couldn’t sleep!”

Mary Ellen has lived in her tri-level home for many years, but as she aged, her arthritis prevented her from climbing the steps as easily as she once had. She had to stop on each level.

Both women participated in Catholic Charities evidence-based health promotions classes and have seen significant improvement in their health and well-being.

Di took the A Matter of Balance class, an 8-week group that emphasizes practical strategies to reduce fear of falling and increase activity levels. Mare Simpler is the lead teacher in the classes.

Mare said “Participants learn to view falls and fear of falling as controllable. Together, we set realistic goals to increase activity. We talk about ways to change their environment to reduce fall risk factors, and we exercise together to increase strength and balance.”

It’s the exercises that have helped Di the most. “I do my exercises every morning! I even brought them on my vacation to Iowa. My family asked me what I was doing and I told them I was doing my balance exercises.”

Di isn’t a patient person, so perhaps even more important than learning the exercises themselves is how to pace herself as she does them. “Now I don’t have any more gardening pain!”

Mary Ellen is not an exercise person, but her arthritis improved after a friend brought her to Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance, another health promotion class. “Tai Ji Quan incorporates a full range of motion in exercise with synchronized breathing techniques,” said Mare.

“We follow Mare’s instructions very carefully,” said Mary Ellen. “It requires a lot of concentration, but the mind and body connection is wonderful. This has really been a boost for me. I’m not a patient person, Mare really keeps things moving.”

Mary Ellen admits, selling her friends on the idea of the class has been a little difficult. She says she took her exercise board (a visual tool to help her do her exercises correctly) to her morning coffee group, and her friends were skeptical. In class, though she’s made new friends who laugh together. About what? “What happens in class, stays in class!”

Both women report their lives are better as a result of their classes and keeping up with their daily exercise. “I’m pain free!” said Mary Ellen.

Both women know it might not always be that way, and so together, they recently took the Living Well with Chronic Conditions class. Both learned about ways they can act now, so that should their symptoms become difficult to manage again, they’re prepared.

Di said, “It’s more information to help us prepare in advance. It helps to be with people who understand.”