Moving medicine: Instructor offers multiple exercise classes for seniors

Japanese bathers exercise before dipping in a cold water tub with blocks of ice at the Teppozu Inari Shinto Shrine during a winter ritual in Tokyo, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

HOUGHTON — “It’s so important for us to keep moving as we age,” said exercise instructor Susan Burack.

With over 30 years of experience teaching gentle exercise in the Keweenaw, Burack practices what she preaches.

“You’re never too old and it’s never too late,” she said.

The latest session of twelve-week classes begins Jan 29. Seniors have four different locations to choose from for 45 minutes of gentle exercise.

On Monday, classes will be held at the Douglass House in Houghton at 10:30 a.m.

Two classes are held on Tuesday, one at 10:30 a.m. at Arbor Green in Houghton and the other at 1 p.m. at Lakeview Manor in Hancock.

The Thursday class will be held at the Park Avenue Apartments in Calumet at 10:30 a.m.

“Everybody participates as they are able and the results are so gratifying because the feedback is so positive,” said Burack.

Previous participants report loss of back pain, better sleeping, shoulder pain vanishing and lowered blood pressure. Burack even sees other benefits.

“I think the main thing is the socialization, that it’s fun,” said Burack. “We laugh and it gets people out of their apartments.”

Exercises are low impact and most take place while sitting. The gentle movements target arthritis, particularly in the fingers and hands. Burack taps into many different disciplines including yoga and the Feldenkrais method.

“We do stretching, we do strengthening, we do breathing exercises,” said Burack.

She likes to make the classes easily accessible for seniors so they don’t require cars or trips to a fitness center for seniors living in the residences where the classes are held.

She’s heard every excuse in the book and maintains people should just give it a try.

One group put off attending only to be surprised by how much fun they had, she said. For anyone unsure, Burack encourages them to just come and watch.