SOUTH GLENS FALLS — Darleena Ball had a bone scan three years ago and her doctor told her she needed to start exercising.
So she started attending the Osteobusters class at the Moreau Community Center.
“This year when I had my bone scan, she told me I had improved,” Ball said, “so I was glad.”
Ball is now a leader of the free class, which encourages senior citizens to build muscle, improve balance and maintain strong bones. Many of the activities, like heel lifts, small leg kicks with ankle weights and marching, are performed with a chair for balance.
Marge Watson and Peg Moody started the program at the Moreau Community Center 16 years ago after Watson’s husband Walter died.
“I didn’t want to stay home alone,” Watson said. “I wanted to be at the center."
The sorority sisters started with 12 seniors ready to bust some osteoporosis. Now they boast a group of 41 and average about 25 people per class, which takes place at 8:30 a.m. Mondays and Fridays. 14 seniors participated Friday, despite the below-zero temperatures.
“It keeps the legs going,” said 88-year-old Leah Conklin, lifting her knees up to her waist.
The octogenarian has been doing Osteobusters for 16 years and said it has helped her avoid having knee or hip replacements.
“It just keeps the body moving. It keeps your head going,” Conklin said. “This would open up the eyes of a lot of women who are home watching TV.”
The class helps strengthen bones, which is important during the snowy winter months, when icy walkways pose a threat, Moody said.
“It’s been proven that people have fallen in the winter time or even other times and amazingly they haven’t broken any bones,” Moody said. “The doctors have attributed this to exercise.”
Participants need their doctors’ approval before starting the class, permission the doctors are eager to grant, she added.
“The doctors are thrilled to sign it and have people exercise,” she said, “because so many times people don’t exercise as much as they should.”
But the group of women — and at least one man — gets more than just strong bones out of the class. The group takes breaks for coffee, refreshments and companionship.
“It’s also a social time for people,” Moody said. “There’s a lot of these ladies that live alone and it gives them communication and socialization.”