About Stay Strong, Stay Healthy

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy (SSSH) aims to provide older adults with access to a safe, structured and effective exercise program capable of building muscle and increasing bone density, thus decreasing frailty, osteoporosis and the risk of falls.

SSSH helps participants meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s physical activity recommendations, which call for strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups at least two days a week in addition to aerobic activities such as walking or swimming. The CDC’s 2014 National Health Interview Survey indicates that only 9.7 percent of Americans 65 and up meet those physical activity guidelines. That statistic will encompass a growing number of people during the next few decades. The nation’s elderly population, estimated at 43.1 million in 2012, will jump to 83.7 million in 2050, according to a 2014 U.S. Census Bureau report.

SSSH strives to meet the need for effective community-based exercise programs that such demographic data highlights. SSSH challenges participants through incremental increases in exercise volume and intensity. Led by a certified instructor, participants complete a warmup, a prescribed set of upper- and lower-body strengthening exercises and a cool-down. In addition to group courses held twice a week, participants are encouraged to complete the program on their own once a week. After the course ends, participants are encouraged to continue the program at home or with a community group.

Results published in the Journal of Aging and Health show that participants improved in each of seven markers used to assess strength, balance and flexibility. University of Missouri Extension added a second level of the program in 2009 to meet the demand and need for advanced exercises. Participants who completed the second level of SSSH showed similar fitness improvements as well as a reduction in body fat.

The SSSH program continues to evolve in order to provide a quality program for the growing number of seniors.