Three-Generation Workout: Strengthening their bodies and family bonds
Article Date: Dec 31, 2013

Doris, Merleen and Cori in the workout pool

Doris, Merleen and Corie have the secret to a better workout—do it with family.

85-year-old Doris Shafer wanted to get stronger. Her daughter, 56-year-old Merleen Lisko, wanted to slim down. Granddaughter Corie Lisko—who's 35—wanted to lose weight and tone up.

All three are regulars at the Alegent Creighton Health Immanuel Wellness Center. And they're well on their way to meet their fitness goals.

"We're glad we're so versatile that we can meet the needs of the grandmother who's working on maintaining movement and balance, the daughter who wants to improve her health status and the granddaughter who's improving her fitness level," said Julie Cobos, MS, CPT and team lead of member services for the Immanuel Wellness Center.

The family's fitness collaboration began when Merleen's husband signed up a year ago; he quickly inspired her to join in. She became sold on the water aerobics classes and convinced her mom to join. Then she gave her daughter a membership as a birthday present.

All three like the atmosphere at the Wellness Center and appreciate that it's not overly-crowded, like some gyms can be. "There's always a machine open," the granddaughter said. "You don't have to pay extra for classes," her mother added. "It's a great value."

They're already seeing benefits. The grandmother suffered from dizziness and numbness in her feet. Now she "walks better" and is steadier on her feet, she said. She's able to walk off the numbness in the pool and no longer uses a flotation belt as she became more comfortable in the water.

Her daughter joins her in the water aerobics classes and uses the treadmill as well. Her goal is to lose 50 pounds.

The granddaughter admitted she was hesitant to use her membership at first, but now is a regular. "Doing it together makes for more accountability," she said. On days she doesn't want to go, her mother keeps her from "slacking."

Exercising in groups of friends or family can also be better for a person's brain, according to research out of Princeton University. That's because adding social contact to exercise gets neurons fired up more than if someone is working out solo. That reduces stress. And regular exercise can make a person less likely to get stressed in the first place.

Kansas State University researchers found that workouts improve too; when accompanied by a gym buddy, a person spends more time working out and the intensity of the workout shoots up almost 200 percent.

Then there's the "fun" element that Doris, Merleen and Corie enjoy so much. There's a friend to motivate you. You become a regular at the gym. Quitting is no longer an option. Time flies by. You build even stronger family bonds.

"We talk every day. We talk all the time," granddaughter Corie Lisko said. The extra time together at the Wellness Center is an added bonus in their lives.

The three generations of women said they expect to keep up their workouts through the holidays, a time many people stop going to the gym. And they expect to remain members at Immanuel Wellness for as far out as they can see.

Corie's daughter is eight and joins them for family swim every other week. Who knows? When she's old enough, she could make it a four-generation workout.


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