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Seniors Stretch For 'Young At Heart' Program
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Stretching and flexing their muscles, pushing and pulling on rubber resistance tubes, Riverbank's senior citizens were working out in an exercise class known as Young at Heart.

It's billed as a low impact exercise class designed to help older adults live longer, healthier and more independent lives through resistance training.

Instructor Jeanne Howe and her husband, Terry, who acts as her assistant, are from Modesto, where they run another class. The Riverbank edition has been under way for approximately two years.

Sponsored by the Riverbank Recreation Department, the classes are conducted on Tuesdays and Fridays from 9- to 10 a.m. at the Community Center. There is no pressure or formality. Just drop in and pay the instructor a fee of $1.

Friday's session drew 11 patrons in addition to the two instructors. Numbers usually range from 15 to 20, said Howe.

Age seems no bar to the benefits of exercise. One woman at the Riverbank class is 83 years of age. Several other patrons are in their 80s.

In Modesto, said Howe, she has one woman who is age 98 who does all the exercises and brings her bouquets of flowers as well.

The program was invented by a woman named Denney Plotzer-Gold eight or nine years ago, and it is popular in Washington, Oregon and California.

The exercises are aimed at retaining flexibility and building strength in the joints and muscles, in addition to fostering good balance.

Lasting an hour, the class includes 25 different exercises, in addition to the warm-up and cool down moves, said Terry Howe. Participants then round it off with half an hour of brisk walking around the Community Center Park.

Many hospitals are now referring patients to the class who have completed formal pysiotherapy to the exercise classes, said Terry Howe. They have been known to restore movement in the limbs patients who were almost paralyzed, he added.

There is no age limit for the class, Anybody of 18 or over may attend, although most of the participants are at least middle aged. You can even do the exercises sitting down if you are not feeling that strong.