University of Missouri Extension’s Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program for older adults is now offered online via Zoom.

A new eight-week class begins Aug. 17. One-hour sessions are Mondays and Wednesdays at 1 p.m.

SSSH aims to provide older adults with access to a safe, structured and effective exercise program capable of building muscle and increasing bone density, thus increasing independence and decreasing frailty, osteoporosis and the risk of falls, says SSSH co-instructor Lindsey Stevenson, nutrition and health specialist for MU Extension.

“This low-impact strength training program challenges participants through incremental increases in exercise volume and intensity,” she says. “The virtual classes will be led by two certified instructors, and participants will complete a warmup, a prescribed set of upper- and lower-body exercises and a cool-down.”

Developed by MU Extension in 2005, Stay Strong, Stay Healthy is based on a Tufts University fitness program called Strong Women Stay Young. MU Extension adapted the program to focus on older adults, both men and women, who represent the fastest-growing age group in the U.S.

The 16-session class is $50, or just over $3 per session. Registration deadline is noon Monday, Aug. 17.  Go to extension2.missouri.edu/events/stay-strong-stay-healthy-virtual-strength-training-for-older-adults, or contact Stevenson at 417-682-3579 or stevensonlk@missouri.edu.

SSSH helps participants meet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s physical activity recommendations, which call for strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups at least two days a week in addition to aerobic activities such as walking or swimming, Stevenson says.

In addition to group courses held twice a week, participants are encouraged to complete the program on their own once a week.

“MU Extension exercise specialists have adapted the SSSH program so that it can be available to Missourians from the comfort of their homes,” she says. “Through the pandemic, MU Extension is still serving Missourians by providing programs and education in new ways to help improve their health.”

Sidebar 1: Benefits of strength training

One of the best ways to keep your body and mind functioning at its best is to exercise. Some of the benefits of regular strength training:

Improves balance.
Enhances flexibility.
Relieves arthritic pain.
Helps control weight.
Lifts depression.
Reduces stress.
Reduces risks for heart disease.
Sidebar 2: Impact of SSSH

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy is one of MU Extension’s most successful programs:

91% of participants met strength training and flexibility recommendations.
97% of participants felt their overall health improved.
96% of participants felt physically stronger.
76% of participants reported that their joints felt better.
94% of participants would take another course led by their instructor.
98% of those who completed the course would recommend SSSH to a friend.