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Making StrongWomen in the community

  • LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS The StrongWomen program offers classes in stretching and strength training.
    LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS The StrongWomen program offers classes in stretching and strength training.
Published August 17. 2012 05:02PM

"It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always." Oprah Winfrey.

Women of today believe that statement.

Women strive to be the best they can be in everything they do. One of the highest accolades a woman can receive is to be considered "strong."

She has many strengths and is considered to be the heart of her home and family. But juggling family, home and often a job requires physical strength as well as mental and emotional strengths. That is why the staff of the John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrtion Science and Policy of Tufts University developed the StrongWomen Program, an evidence-based strength-training program.

The program conducts strength training for women in applied educational settings. Educating individuals in a group setting about the effects of diet and exercise, on bone health, and attaining and maintaining peak bone mass is a supportive approach in helping individuals make appropriate lifestyle changes to help in the prevention of osteoporosis. The StrongWomen program is designed to eliminate barriers to exercise participation by enabling a variety of communities to offer a program that is easy to learn and can be performed with low-cost equipment in a variety of settings. The program is designed to be sensitive to women's participation and is also designed to increase full participation and completion.

The benefits of strength training in older women have been studied extensively and include:

*Increased muscle mass and strength

*Improved bone density and reduced risk for osteoporosis and related fractures

*Reduces risk for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression, and obesity

*Improved self-confidence, sleep and vitality

Dawn Olson, Extension Educator, Penn State Extension and coordiantor of the Monroe County StrongWomen program believed such a program was needed in the area.

"The Penn State Extension piloted the program in five counties. My co-workers spoke so highly of the program and the enthusiasm shared by the participants that I decided this was a program I wanted to bring to Monroe County," says Olson. She was instrumental in the formation of the StrongWomen and the West End Change Club.

"We had three persons go for instructor training the fall of 2008 and started our first classes in January 2009. Locations were Brodheadsville and Stroudsburg. Since then, we have trained three more instructors and have expanded to Pocono Pines, Trachsville, and East Stroudsburg," she says.

Penn State Cooperative Extension educators have been trained by The StrongWomen Program of Tufts University.

"Our target audience for StrongWomen is women over 40, especially those who have not been recently involved in an exercise program. Once they join Strong Women, which meets twice a week, they report numerous health benefits including improved balance, greater flexibility, stronger muscles, and that they have fun. We have great trained instructors who lead the class."

Currently, there is a StrongWoman class held Tuesdays and Thursdays at WPCL and Mondays and Wednesdays at Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Trachsville.

"Everyone has inside of her a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!" Anne Frank.

That kind of sums up what the StrongWomen program is all help women find how great they can be, what they can accomplish and that they can reach their potential.

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