KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Only 25 percent of seniors between the ages 65 to 74 get regular exercise. But a local group is trying to change that and getting national recognition in the process.
Fun-loving seniors work out to the oldies every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at KCDC's Love Towers in North Knoxville.
As seen on their matching t-shirts, they call themselves the Love Morning Exercise group.
You can credit Rita Schwartz, an energetic eight-year Towers resident, with starting the whole thing a year ago after a scary diagnosis.
"When I started this class, I had just found out I had cancer. And I had surgery and had most of the cancer removed. But I knew if I was gonna get well again, that I really needed to get strong," Schwartz said. "And lo and behold, we have a wonderful group. We started out with four ladies, three of whom were over 80, and now we have about 13 participants."
The group's success means a lot to Rita, who has also battled severe depression in recent years.
Wanting to make the most out of the program, Rita emailed the National Institute on Aging for free exercise books and videos and included a short story on the new class.
"Next thing I knew they were emailing back and saying we want to feature you on our website for a month. And here we are," she said.
Several members of the Love Morning Exercise Group are featured on the NIA's Go4Life success stories page.
"They just all think they're stars!" Rita said laughing.
People like Fasia Massaquoi, who at 84, is the oldest in the class.
"It kind of strengthens me in a way, I should say," she said.
The morning routine is based on an arthritis exercise program focusing on endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. But it's also about fellowship.
"It's the socialization and the interaction with my fellow residents. It's just really something special," said member Buck Cochran.
"It makes me feel good, you know, 'cause I'm 52 and it makes me feel younger, makes me feel like I can be 32 or 22," said Donald Richie.
And you don't have to get every move just right; the goal here is to just keep moving.
Rita also says programs like this can help with the stigma of public housing.
Most members are either older or have a disability. They say their exercise program gets them out of their apartments and is a real boost to their outlook on life.