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Exercise is good for whatever ails you

Magazines, books, the Internet and even television commercials are packed with information touting the benefits of exercise for both our physical health and emotional wellbeing.  As the size of America’s waistline has increased and its population consists of millions of aging baby boomers, there appears to be an influx of activities to promote healthy bodies and minds. As it turns out, Johnson Countians have an abundance of activities designed to get them up and moving close to home.
The Internet is inundated with reports from the healthcare industry and others that indicate people who are physically active live longer than their inactive peers.  Exercise has been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression, along with improving your heart health.  You do not need a Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper six-hour mega workout as seen on the popular show, The Biggest Loser, to see health benefits.  Moderate exercise helps your heart become stronger and healthier, while your bad cholesterol and triglycerides decrease as you move into action.  At the same time, your good cholesterol increases with exercise.  Physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of developing diabetes.  Exercise also increases your metabolism, helping you to control your weight.  Blood pressure is decreased with regular physical activity and adding some light hand weights to your routine may prevent osteoporosis, or bone loss.  Regular exercise also helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, a group of seniors gather from 10:00 am to 11:00 am at the fellowship hall at First Christian church to socialize and exercise under the direction of Phil Walter.  Walter taught martial arts for 20 year and his program for seniors incorporates stretching, flexibility, light hand weights, balance drills, dancing and socialization.  “I have some good news and some bad news,” he said.  “First, the bad; as we age, three things happen to us.  We lose muscle mass, our bone density decreases and our muscles get shorter, which makes us less flexible.  Now, the good news:  A regular exercise program can slow down this process and help reverse the effects of aging for many.  Think of fitness as a three-legged stool, muscle strength, muscular endurance and flexibility.”  While Walter’s class is geared for seniors, everyone is welcome.  The class is offered at no charge.

Rita Regine readily admits she comes to the senior stretch class to exercise, but she enjoys the companionship and friendship of those attending the class.  “There are an awful lot of nice people there,” she said. “I enjoy the people so much.”  Socialization has been shown to improve both memory and reduce physical and mental stress.
Mountain Fitness, located on Cold Springs Road, offers cardiovascular equipment, such as treadmills, elliptical, stair steppers and both upright and recumbent bikes.  The gym also has a Nautilus circuit for muscle building and endurance, along with free weights.  
Each Tuesday and Thursday evening at 5:30 pm and Saturday morning at 7:30 am, a boot camp class is offered under the direction of Brooke Reece, a certified personal trainer. She also teaches spin classes, an intense cardiovascular workout on Wednesdays at 4:15 pm.
For those seeking a less intense workout, Jennifer Icenhour teaches a step class at 5:30 pm each Wednesday.  Rebekah Darocha, also a certified trainer, leads an interval class on Mondays at 6:00 pm.  This class is designed for those not quite ready for Reece’s boot camp.  Both Darocha and Reece can work individually with gym members.
According to Mountain Fitness owner, Karyn Downey, some of her gym members just completed the fourth BL2, Mountain City’s version of the Biggest Loser contest.  The 16-week program incorporates food journals; a weekly weigh in, bi-weekly measurements as well as before and after pictures.Mountain Fitness offers both month-to-month rates, along with contract rates for six months, nine months and 12 months time periods.  There are also discounts available for students, seniors and families.  Contact Downey at 727-2577 for more information.
The Johnson County Senior Center offers an exercise class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 am to 11:00 am for its members.  In order to join the center, you must be 60 years old and above, or join with a spouse who meets the age requirements.  They also offer the very popular line dancing class on Monday and Thursdays from 12:30 to 2:30.  The center also has some cardio equipment.  “You can shoot pool, play cards and eat a hot lunch for a dollar,” said a recently retired Dr. Joe Ray.  “It’s a good place to mentally interact and socialize with others.”
Ralph Stout Park offers an excellent area to enjoy the beauty of Johnson County as you traverse around the track.  There are several benches strategically place that offer a place to rest.  Every morning a group of regulars can be found walking and getting their heart rates elevated, some with their dogs in tow.

The park also offers a nine-hole disc golf course.  N&N, a local business, was instrumental in providing the grant monies to build the course several years ago.  According to Billy Gambill, a disc-golf clinic will be offered on February 9th. Participants will walk the course and get hands on experience from some seasoned players.  Gambill is hoping to arrange a tournament after the clinic is completed.  He encourages all who want to participate to bring a disc.  You may contact him at 291-1818 with any questions.
Johnson County also has its own hiking club that typically meets from mid-April through the first week in November.  They usually start with shorter, easier walks and build up to the more difficult hikes along a varied terrain.  According to Carol Camp, the group meets every other Saturday morning at Food Lion parking lot at 8:45 am.  They leave for their destination at 9:00 am sharp.  For more information, take a look at the Community Announcement section of The Tomahawk for updates on the planned hikes.  “The only thing you need is a decent pair of shoes and your lunch,” said Camp.  She may be reached at 727-5947.

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