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Programs improve health

By Hannah King

Since 2008, the City of Nanaimo parks, recreation and culture department has worked with local public health partners to offer a series of fitness classes for residents with chronic illnesses.

Participants have been referred to the program by their physicians or community health nurses, and are working to improve their internal health or have a serious injury that is causing them pain.

Parks and rec offers Learning to Exercise Again, Level 1 and Level 2 courses to the general public beginning in March. The courses are featured in the adult-fitness section of the activity guide at a cost of $50 for five classes.

The introductory class includes a gradual progression and modifications for those with the most serious of health restrictions. Chair work and regular resting periods are promoted while participants develop their balance, core power, flexibility and overall strength.

The second level involves longer cardio portions, less chair work and independent strength work.

As a participant’s overall fitness improves he or she is encouraged to enrol in other parks, recreation and culture fitness programs to continue improving overall health.

Instructor Tara McNeil said there is a difference between this group and regular group fitness classes she leads.

“As we do a lot of things in a circle and with partners, the group becomes more solidified, open and relaxed – all feeling interconnected with the fact that all have some type of chronic illness, yet are there working to the best of their ability,” she said. “We also discuss various exercise and wellness tips as we exercise, making the class one of knowledge as well as fitness.”

If you are living with a chronic disease, we encourage you to discuss this program with your physician. Participants must provide a permission form signed by their doctor before participating in the first class. Full program descriptions will be available in the spring/summer guide distributed March 1.

Hannah King is a marketing and communication specialist with Nanaimo parks, recreation and culture.

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