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Center helps seniors stay fit

Mar. 26, 2013 @ 06:39 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Ask Poppy Cartee why she takes exercise classes regularly at the Underwood Senior Center on Huntington's Southside, and her response is quick and simple: "To stay young. I'm 80, so..." she says with a smile.

Ask Lucy Duba, and she'll tell you it's because it helps with breathing and staying active, and because the teachers know what they're doing.

They're two of a roomful of seniors staying on top of their health -- and having a good time doing it -- at the Underwood Center. Located at 632 9th Ave., the center offers free Senior Wellness Program exercises for strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health at 1 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday, and 1:30 p.m. Fridays. It also offers a line dancing exercise class at 2 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday. Tai-Chi for health and well-being is at 1 p.m. every Friday.

Some seniors, like Cartee, take more than one class.

"These are some of the more healthy people in Huntington because they're doing this," Duba said, motioning to her fellow seniors in the class.

Instructor Sandie Ruggles has been teaching exercise there since 2003. Her class focuses on strength, flexibility and balance, which she hopes will help prevent falls. She sneaks in a little tai chi, which along with balance and flexibility, helps with lung capacity, she said.

"We laugh and carry on," said Ruggles, who lives in Chesapeake, Ohio. "It's good for socializing. You're not sitting at home. A lot of seniors live alone and to be around other people, I think, is good for your mental health."

The classes are open to seniors who live anywhere in the region, not just Cabell County, she said. For more information, call 304-529-3673.

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