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Seniors in Motion Uplifts Participants During Pandemic

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Seniors in Motion participant Margaret McHugh follows along during a recent session.Nearly 40 seniors enrolled in the winter session of NewBridge Services’ Seniors in Motion, a free six-week virtual program that teaches older adults the power of body movement in wellness and pain management.

Seniors in Motion “makes exercise fun while moving to music,” said instructor Sylvie Minot. “It is not just a great physical activity; it calms the mind, relaxes the body, eases pain, lifts the spirit, and creates connections.”

NewBridge teamed up with Syzygy Dance Project, which Minot founded, and Life Center Stage to create a program for seniors to gather virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors in Motion is part of Tame the Pain, a NewBridge initiative that helps older adults understand the risks of prescription opioids and learn alternative pain management options. It’s funded by a state Department of Human Services grant.

“When we join together in movement and dance, it lifts our spirits, relieves stress, and leads to a deep sense of joy while also improving circulation and strengthening muscle function,” Life Center Stage owner Vicky Mulligan said. 

“I think it’s great! It gives me something to look forward to on Thursdays,” said 89-year-old Margaret McHugh of Sparta. “I never was a dancer, but it’s very satisfying to move to music I like,” McHugh said. Due to poor balance, McHugh keeps her walker within reach and modifies some of the movements. “It’s a pleasant hour, and I can’t say enough about the women who run it: they are so friendly and welcoming.”

Jan M., another participant, said: “I enjoyed it a lot. It helped me get my body moving a little easier.”

NewBridge Services Director of Community Response and Education Beth Jacobson said the program is suitable for all seniors, including those with chronic pain and disabilities, because the movements can be adapted. “I have received nothing but positive feedback from participants,” said Jacobson, adding that seniors are requesting class play lists so they can do the movements between sessions.

NewBridge’s Tame the Pain will be offering additional upcoming programs. Seniors can contact Jacobson at ejacobson@newbridge.org or (973) 686-2242 for more information. 

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