ABLE Bodies Seniors Go Head to Head at Mobility 'Carnival'

04/08/04    Portland, Ore.


Seniors from Portland assisted living facilities and retirement communities will test their strength, mobility and balance skills during a carnival capping their completion of Oregon's second 16-week class offered through the new ABLE Bodies Balance Improvement Project.

The ABLE Bodies balance training program is being studied by ThinkFirst Oregon, an Oregon Health & Science University-based injury prevention program, and Terwilliger Plaza, a Portland retirement community. They are using a $25,000 grant from the National Blueprint for Aging to evaluate its effectiveness.

Carnival participants will compete in individual and team events that include a relay race; soccer game with a balloon; reaching exercises from a walker; an obstacle course with balance beams and short platforms; and straight-line walks.

"The goal is to keep them independent as long as possible," said Rae Rosenberg, ThinkFirst coordinator.

The carnival is part of the study's intervention component. Two data collection periods will follow, and study results are expected to be published in the coming months.


About 30 seniors ages 70 and older will take part. Several are in their 90s, and one participant turns 100 next month. All will be assisted by ThinkFirst Oregon, Renewable Fitness and Terwilliger Plaza staff, Portland State University interns and teen-age volunteers.


10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 10, 2004


Terwilliger Plaza auditorium, 2545 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd., Portland


ABLE Bodies seeks to improve balance, functional abilities and physical activity among seniors to enhance their quality of life. Functional improvements can help seniors complete such tasks as reaching for a book, sweeping the floor, bathing, getting out of bed and avoiding falls.


ABLE Bodies recommends seniors perform the following strengthening exercises daily to improve strength and balance.

Smell the coffee
It's a morning at the beach, the air smells fresh and cool, and you feel great.

    1. Sit up tall, lengthening your spine.    

    2. Breathe in deeply through your nose and fill your lungs with the salty breeze.

        Lengthen your spine.
        Smell the coffee.
        Stay tall while you exhale.
    3. Breathe in again, Lengthen your spine to lift your nose into the breeze.
        1. Draw your shoulders down and back.
        2. Exhale slowly while you hold your tall posture.
        3. Relax.

    Did you smell the coffee? How about cinnamon rolls?
    • Repeat six to eight times.

    Stand ups


        1. Sit at the edge of a chair.
        2. Pull one heel back behind its knee.
        3. Lift your ribs and spine tall.
        4. Press heel down into the floor
        5. Lean forward, stand up.
        6. Stand up and sit down until you begin to tire.

    It's one continuous movement.


        Press down.
        Lean forward.
        Stand up.

    Heel raises


        1. Use a sturdy chair or hand railing for balance safety.
        2. Stand tall. That's ABLE Bodies jargon for:
            Abs in.
            Ribs lifted.
            Shoulders down and back.
        3. Lift your heels off the floor.
        4. "Hover" and balance a moment, lower.
        5. Repeat 8-12 times. Relax.

        For more challenge


            Hold your balance at the top longer.
            Use an offset foot position (one foot forward).
            Walk on your toes.



            1. Think, "step-together-step" types of movements.
            2. Stand tall, keep your abs in and your shoulders over your hips throughout.
            3. Use a railing or counter for balance support.
            4. Take medium to large steps to the side. Begin with six steps, each direction.

        Try side-stepping to music, such as a waltzing melody. Or make your own music and hum or count to yourself.

        Flexibility activities


            1. Move your joints through slow, gentle stretching movements.
            2. Yawning enhances a good stretch.
            3. Inhale as you reach or lift tall. Exhale down.
            4. Roll you shoulders and stretch your chest, back and sides. Roll your ankles, bend and   straighten your knees, stretch your hamstrings.
            5.Relax. Enjoy.