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Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014

Columbia Heights-Fridley Sun Focus

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focus.mnsun.com

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Retired nurse stays fit, helps those in need BY SUE WEBBER CONTRIBUTING WRITER The word “active� doesn’t begin to describe Doris Braley. “I was an Iowa farm girl,� she said. “We were poor. I climbed trees, I iceskated, I played girls basketball and softball, and I just kept it up.� Now 73, Braley said, “I get up in the morning and do stretches, and I’ve been walking for years.� She runs laps weekly at the New Brighton Community Center and was recently enrolled in five different classes there, including Pilates, cardio workout, yoga and T’ai Chi Chih. Braley logged 500 miles on her bike last summer, including trips on the Cannon River trails and multiple trips around Lake Calhoun in one day. “I usually go to the Cannon River,� she said. “It’s awesome. I don’t like to bike in town.� “You have to keep at it,� said Braley, who thinks nothing of biking 50 miles at a time. Last year, Braley bought ice skates. “I hadn’t ice-skated for 30 years,� she said. “I started with a shovel holding me up.� She kept at it, perfecting her form and her speed. When Braley was 64, her daughter participated in a triathlon, and Braley became concerned when it seemed as though her daughter should have finished, but was nowhere in sight. “I started running and found her; she was dehydrated,� Braley said. “I walked and ran with her to finish the race, and she said, ‘Mom, why don’t you do this?’� Braley participated in three 5K races last year, and is already signing up for another. “There are really a lot of things in life that aren’t important,� Braley said. “But the things that are very important are health, to keep going, to have friends and be involved in the community.� A retired nurse, Braley has donated time and expertise during trips to Third World countries through Christian Peacemakers since 1997. She has

worked in Nicaragua and Honduras, and recounts traveling up the Andes Mountains and walking across streams. On two trips to Barrancabermeja, Colombia, she traveled the Magdalena River to different places. “It was just awesome; I loved it,â€? Braley said. “When I lived with other medical teams in Nicaragua, I started to learn some Spanish. It’s good to use different parts of your brain.â€? She has also been active with Vets for Peace and Women Against Military Madness, including participating in protests in Columbus, Ga. A year ago, she took part in a 100mile peace walk and plans to do it again in 2014. For the last 11 years, Braley has volunteered her nursing expertise in a free clinic each Thursday. In addition, she has delivered Meals on Wheels for Above: Doris Braley is pictured with her grandson Adam, 15. (Submitted photo) 30 years. “I’m not a TV-watching person,â€? she said. Patrice Atkinson, recreation supervisor for the city of New Brighton, sums it up this way: “Doris has the vitality and spirit that motivates those around her.â€? Braley often walks with a friend to the %&* .  %  ,*& %&  club, works out and walks home, according to Atkinson. * &%-& / ,$% -% / * # %  “She has done many running events & %  ,& * &  % &%-& / ,$ and the three-day walk for breast can * * . %  &  "* & * * cer,â€? Atkinson said. “She uses the New / ,% &# Brighton Community Center fitness center and takes multiple group fitness classes.â€?    Lesley Young, recreation coordinator for New Brighton, said that the city has # ( # (  % seen increased interest in senior citizen &#   00 + -,  card-playing groups and travel opportu , *&  &%- % -   , *& nities. &    “We’ve added some extended travel  &'  !(' * -,  and contracted with two travel compa , *&     

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Columbia Heights-Fridley Sun Focus

•

focus.mnsun.com

Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014

Water exercise: It’s not just for the summertime joined the YMCA last spring, and both have been participants in water aerobics four times a week. Water activities become a major focus “We really enjoy it,� Mary said. “It just for both exercise and pleasure on many feels so good. We feel very sluggish when Minnesotans’ summer schedules. we don’t do it. Craig has a lot of arthritis Some people have found a way to in his back and this really helps.� replicate that exercise and pleasure durTracy Croissant of Brooklyn Center ing the winter months by making use of has also been doing water aerobics at the indoor community center pools or local Northwest YMCA six times a week for YMCAs. 10 years. “Our water exercise classes sometimes “It’s fun; there’s a lot of camaraderie,� have 30 or more people,� said Colshe said. “You make friends and we meet leen Haubner, executive director of the for coffee afterwards.� Northwest YMCA in New Hope. “We’re Personal trainers generally meet with outgrowing our pool on some days.� new adult members at the YMCA to Bobbie Gjersvig, program manager for ascertain what they’re looking for, help Group Exercise and Active Older Adults them identify areas to work on, and learn (AOA) at the Northwest YMCA in New how to use the machines, Gjersvig said. Hope, said water aerobics is popular with “The trainers help them lay out the many older men and women ages 60 and first couple of weeks and help them start up. Two classes a week draw between 10- building new habits in a positive way,� 20 people each, she said. she said. “Trainers do follow-ups two to Water volleyball on Friday afternoons four weeks out.� also brings enough people to create Once they find a class that fits into teams of up to 8 people on a side, Gjers- their schedule, Gjersvig said, members vig said. create friendships “and that gives them a An 8 a.m. water exercise class brings reason to come back.� seniors out three times a week. An Aqua Water activities also are popular across Zumba class is also popular, she said. town at the Brooklyn Center Community In addition, the YMCA offers 14 difCenter. Kelly Mertes, recreation proferent sessions of Silver Sneakers classes, gram supervisor at the Brooklyn Center plus strength training, cardio and move- Community Center, said several hundred ment to people that range in age from senior citizens ages 55-90 participate in 60-88. fitness classes there. “Many of our seniors are here three “For many, it becomes a social thing times a week,� Gjersvig said. “They will as well,� Mertes said. “They come for the be the first to tell you that they are so health and fitness or because they have mobile, active and able to live their lives aches and pains, and then they make because they take these classes.� such good friends that they do other Mary Jo Martinson of Maple Grove things, too.� has been participating in the YMCA The aqua exercises provide a gentle water exercise classes three times a week workout for people and have no impact for the last 10 years. on joints, she said. Some very dedicated “It’s such a good exercise for anybody, people come multiple times a week. not just seniors,� she said. “It helps with “Some are regularly here every mornyour general health. It can be as gentle ing when we open at 8:30 a.m.,� she said. or as vigorous as you want. We do a lot Anne Gillespie Lewis, 69, a Minof cardio and very vigorous exercise. We neapolis journalist and author, started sweat in the water. I didn’t think that was swimming at a pool in Minneapolis and possible.� followed her favorite instructor to the Prior to beginning the classes, Martin- Brooklyn Center Community Center five son had suffered with hip bursitis that years ago. The water exercises make her kept her in constant pain. After talking feel better, she said. to a friend who said she swore by the “The unexpected bonus is the camarawater exercises, Martinson gave it a try. derie with others in the class,� she said. “It has helped build the muscles back “For some, a lot of it is social.� in my legs,� she said. “I hope I can do the Beverly Gustafson, a 45-year Brooklyn water exercise forever. I do a lot of walk- Center resident who recently moved to ing now.� Osseo, also endorses the water program At one time, Martinson said, she led in Brooklyn Center. She’s been going to the water aerobics classes herself for the classes for 20 years. three years. “In the summer, I went to as many “People there make many new friendas five classes a week; now I go twice a ships, and that’s very important,� she week,� Gustafson said. said. “We look out for each other. To be She used to walk with her husband. truly healthy, you need social, emotional But because she has osteoarthritis in her and physical activity. This has it all.� knees, she said, there are a lot of land Mary and Craig Barlow of Crystal exercises she can’t do. Water aerobics BY SUE WEBBER CONTRIBUTING WRITER

“improves my flexibility and range and motion,� she said. The pool temperature at the Brooklyn Center Community Center is set at 86 degrees, “right in the middle,� Mertes said. “Some pools are warmer, such as

Courage Center and the YMCA,� she said. “Schools or community center pools are used more for laps, so their water generally is cooler. We’re not a competitive pool.�

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