Talk with a health educator - MaineHealth Learning Resource Center Find health information - MaineHealth Learning Resource Center

Partnership for Healthy Aging

Thirty minutes well spent

Thirty minutes well spent
by Shireen Shahawy, Consultant to Partnership for Healthy Aging

Becky King of Vernon, Texas, knows first hand how important exercise and strength training are to keeping her body safe.  She knows first hand because a fall taken shortly after completing her Matter of Balance class ended well.  Becky's doctor said she would have surely broken her ankle if she had not used the techniques she learned in the class. 

Becky is on a mission. She tries to convince her friends that 30 simple minutes of exercise a day will help them preserve both their bodies and their independence. Becky notes that she has seen many friends fall and quickly lose the independence they so dearly cherish, and she made a conscious decision not to let that happen to her. 

Becky is 74 years young and prides herself on knowing how to react in a fall-situation. Becky took the Matter of Balance class from her good friend and Matter of Balance Master Trainer, Iva Belew.  Becky and Iva were discussing how they had observed their once-active friends lose their independence to falls, and they resolved to take action.  When Iva was trained to offer the Matter of Balance classes, Becky knew she would need to attend. Becky lives alone and is scared to face a fall that could either hospitalize her or send her to a nursing home. She decided to do everything she could to stay healthy, and happily made the commitment to the class - and her subsequent commitment to 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Becky reports that she saw results right away, especially in the strength in her ankles, legs and knees. She saw more muscle tone after just one week of the exercises. She tells her friends they need to "shape up." She doesn't encourage them to do it so they'll be "sweater girls," but so they will have conditioned muscles and the ability to hold up their body weight in the case of a fall.

Becky summed up the experience eloquently:

"It is most important you do the little things every day to strengthen your ankle and leg muscles.  They are your prime ways to successfully manage a fall.  If you don't, you're at the mercy of the fall - of gravity - of momentum.  If all it takes is 30 minutes a day to keep me strong - I'll do it!"

Thirty minutes well spent, indeed.  

 Previous story                                 Next: "It makes you think"


A Matter of Balance is an award-winning program designed to manage falls and increase activity levels. The program consists of eight 2-hour sessions. Participants learn to set realistic goals to increase activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors, and learn simple exercises to increase strength and balance.


110 Free Street | Portland, Maine 04101 | (207) 661-7001