Virginia Shaffery had osteoporosis before she started taking the Bone Builders class at a Paradise Valley senior center three years ago. Today she teaches the class every Thursday and has normal bone density.
Soon after she signed up for the class developed by UACE and others, Shaffery was asked if she'd like to assist the instructor. She agreed and completed the volunteer training program offered by Maricopa County Cooperative Extension.
A month later the original teacher left and Shaffery was asked to step in.
"We work the full body, including some weights. I'm very pleased with the results for everyone, as well as myself," she said. "We all enjoy it very much and feel better afterwards."
She didn't realize how much better until a few months ago when Shaffery met with her new doctor following a bone density scan. He said her bone density was normal.
"What? No osteopenia?" she asked, explaining that six years ago at age 62 she was diagnosed with osteoporosis and took bone-loss medication for the next four years.
The doctor asked what she was doing that might have made a difference. At first, she just mentioned taking calcium with vitamin D.
"Then later I thought – oh my word I’ve been doing this class for three years – so obviously that had something to do with it," she exclaimed.
Bone Builders exercises strengthen bones and improve flexibility, endurance and balance. Participants also learn about eating habits that can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a silent disease that causes porous bones that break easily.
Shaffery is proof that Bone Builder classes do just that. Another benefit is the camaraderie. Evaluations show high praise for Virginia and the classes. One student wrote, "I have been a part of this class since it began. It helps my muscles and my balance, and helps me meet people and learn so many new things."