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Nonprofit group's exercise plan benefits Southeast seniors

by: COURTESY OF LISA REVELL - In a Body Recall class in Sellwood, Paul Reynolds, Ina Hammond, Trish Goldman, Richard Poulton and Virginia Davenport pose to demonstrate an exercise designed to strengthen thigh and abdominal muscles.We all know that cars can be “recalled” for repairs to avert harmful accidents. But have we thought about “recalling” our bodies – to shore them up against accidents?

Body Recall is a nonprofit organization that, in a sense, does just that – aims to prevent the body’s owner (YOU!) from experiencing unexpected breakdowns.

The essence of Body Recall is simply movement – sheer movement – in the form of moderate exercise.

If you haven’t heard of Body Recall, you are not the only one. Even though the nonprofit organization has been in existence for over thirty years, it is better known on the East Coast, where it is well integrated into senior health care plans.

In August of this year Body Recall received national recognition when its exercise and disease-prevention programs and activities were rigorously evaluated and found to have significant health benefits.

Sellwood resident and retired chiropractor Lisa Revell is one of three hundred certified Body Recall instructors in 32 states who have been trained to teach scripted movement patterns geared especially for seniors. “We exercise the back, the brain, the whole body,” explains Revell. Every three years, a full week of additional training for instructors is required, to keep them fresh and knowledgeable.

For the past three years Revell has attracted a loyal following to the classes she gives twice a week at Immanuel Lutheran Church on S.E. 15th Avenue in Sellwood.

A Tuesday afternoon class begins with participants briskly walking around the large Fellowship Hall, to carefully-calibrated marching music, or sometimes to the tempo of Pink Martini. Arms swinging and legs lifting high, eleven adults mostly in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s concentrate and smile as they follow Revell’s instructions to stand up straight, spread the shoulders, land on heels and then toes, and pass one another if necessary – while finding their own route and pacing around the room.

When everyone sits down to do exercises that stretch and strengthen legs, arms, ankles, and necks, Revell imparts information – such as the value of slow movement against gravity.

“How much do you think the average leg weighs?” she asks. The answer is 35 pounds. “By lifting the leg you get a lot of exercise,” she points out. “Using body weight and gravity to strengthen leg and thigh muscles is good for climbing stairs, getting in and out of cars and chairs, as well as skiing,” she says with a chuckle to people who probably don’t ski anymore. Everyone there is having fun while getting mild aerobic exercise. After class, Sellwood resident Trish Goldman tells THE BEE that she has taken the class for almost three years and sees enormous benefits. “After back surgery two years ago, I continued classes, and my surgeon at OHSU said this is the best thing I could do for my back. He says he wishes every single one of his patients could do this.”

Trish’s companion, Richard Poulton, initially came along to keep Trish company two years ago, but now attends every week because he likes it so much. He emphasizes that class is never boring or disappointing, and adds, “We can come to class feeling not very energetic, but we always leave rejuvenated.”

Revell has a thorough understanding of the body from her thirty years as a chiropractor. She says medical studies show that moderate exercise provides most of the same benefits as strenuous exercise, but with less risk of causing pain or injury.

Body Recall can be taught to all ages (Revell has a 101 year old woman in her Odd Fellows Home class), and it helps students gain better balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength. It is helpful for adults in keeping blood sugar and blood pressure down, managing weight and chronic pain, preventing falls, increasing bone density, and maintaining better mental and emotional health.

National Institute of Health research shows some older adults shy away from exercise believing it might be too strenuous or harmful. NIH says, however, “Older adults hurt their health far more by not exercising than by exercising.”

When Revell and her husband, David Stone, go to Ghana every two years to offer medical care and teach English classes in a village they have “adopted”, Revell teaches Body Recall to rural subsistence farmers with joint and muscle problems. Instead of American Swing and marching music, they do exercises to the rhythm of Ghanaian music.

Classes in Sellwood are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30-4:30 pm, $50 for eight weeks, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 7810 S.E. 15th. For more information e-mail Lisa at HYPERLINK "mailto: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. " This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – or call 971/313-1021. To learn more go online to: HYPERLINK "http://www.bodyrecall.org" www.bodyrecall.org