Strong Bodies celebrates strong tradition of building community

Pictured are participants from a Strong Bodies class in Phillips, including instructor Karen Smart, front row, center.

Strong Bodies, an evidence-based strength-training program developed by Tufts University and facilitated by University of Wisconsin-Extension, includes progressive strength, flexibility and balance activities for men and women ages 18 and older.

According to Libby Huber, Price County Extension Human Development and Relationships Educator, the program substantially improves physical and mental health. "Typical improvements include more energy, stabilized mood, increased strength, reduced falls, and better balance and flexibility." A survey of the most recent participants in Price County indicated 95% of participants feel physi cally stronger, while 90% report their health is better. Of those participants who received clinical tests during the session for cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure or bone density, 93% reported they maintained or improved their condition.

Dani Hoffman, Director of the Price County Health and Wellness Coalition, shares her enthusiasm with these results. "Our work is focused on improving physical health and nutrition in Price County, but the most impressive part of Strong Bodies is how it intersects with mental health." In the same participant survey, well over half reported a new circle of friends, while about 23% began volunteering in their commu nity or (9%) started work on a community project because of connections made in their class.

"Socialization is a major reason people enroll in class," according to Huber. "The program has become a second home for many of our participants."

The Strong Bodies initiative stems from an overall directive by the Price County Health and Wellness Coalition to support a three-year Community Health Improvement Plan coordinated by Price County Public Health and Flambeau Hospital. Price County Extension handles a majority of the Strong Bodies oversight, with Flambeau Hospital taking the lead in northern Price County. Classes begin again Jan. 6. To register or learn more about Park Falls classes, call 715-762-7470. For classes in other locations, call 715-339-2555. To get involved with the Price County Health and Wellness Coalition, contact Hoffman at 715-339-3054.

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