Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

MU Extension Program Helps Northwest Missourians Age Actively

March 30, 2009

Story Contact:  Jeffrey Beeson, (573) 882-9144,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - It is not often that an 80-year-old and a 24-year-old work out together, but for Karen From, an MU Extension health education specialist, this is an everyday occurrence. Held in churches and libraries across the region, MU Extension's Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program helps northwest Missourians keep active. The strength training program, designed for men and women, focuses on safe, structured and effective strength training.

 "Knowing that this short 50-minute session is changing their quality of life, changing how they view their life, and making them feel better, makes me feel like I have a major impact on each participant," said From. "For many individuals, paying for a gym membership is not an option or they may not even have a gym in their area. This program allows anyone in the community to work his/her body and mind, and do it a safe, fun environment."

 What at first glance looks like friends getting ready for a relaxing gathering at the town church soon turns into a serious workout, as tables and chairs are pushed to the side and participants clutch their hand weights. From leads the class in a set of eight upper- and lower-body strengthening exercises and gives helpful tips on staying healthy in their everyday lives. Strength training programs have been shown not only to strengthen bones and improve balance, but also to reduce the risk for heart disease, stress, high blood sugar and depression.

 "The Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program is a part of my life now; it keeps me active, feeling young and healthy," said Becky Dalbey, a Maryville resident. "This is my fourth time to take the class and I also go to classes in the surrounding communities. If I ever miss a class, I notice it; I just don't feel the same."

 The 10-week class uses little more than hand weights and a chair, as participants do exercises like chair squats that strengthen the thighs and lower back and bicep curls, that strengthen the arms. Participants are given a pre- and post-test, detailing their levels of strength, balance and flexibility before and after the program. Because each participant chooses the amount of weight and the number of repetitions, the program can benefit people at any fitness level.

 "When I go to these small towns, people often tell me how surprised they are that I would travel just to help them work out," said From. "I just smile and tell them that they are important to me and to the MU Extension family."

 The Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program hosts classes throughout the state. The program is based on the results of strength training studies in older adults conducted at Tufts University. For more information contact your local extension office or