By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
Tribal elders from several different tribes have joined together to promote healthy lifestyles. These participants earned their medicine pouches and meet on a monthly basis, sometimes weekly, to maintain their goals and support each other with health goals to keep them living strong. Sponsored by Tulalip’s Diabetes Care and Prevention Program, this program and these tribal elders who make it possible are affectionately known as the Wisdom Warriors.
The Wisdom Warriors program was created as a means to successfully link Native American elders with services and information on aging in a healthy and positive way. This valuable program ensures services to elders with a focused outreach method that centers on using culturally appropriate materials and a culturally relevant approach to make services available and effective. The goal is to provide an ongoing, incentive driven program that provides elders with the education, the support and the tools to make healthy choices resulting in lifestyles that promote self-care and longevity.
During the spectacularly warm and sunny afternoon of Tuesday, June 23, the Tulalip Wisdom Warriors held their monthly provider class at the demonstration gardens located within Jennings Memorial Park in Marysville. They were joined by the Tulalip Health Clinic’s very own Dr. Kimberly Kardonsky, clinical specialist in Family Medicine, who spent valuable time with the Wisdom Warriors to discuss and actually perform exercise.
The exercise discussion was all encompassing, covering topics from why people exercise, why people don’t exercise, countering excuses people come up with to not exercise, and learning chair exercises that anyone can do from home without needing any special equipment. Dr. Kardonsky and the Wisdom Warriors talked about what exercise looks like, what a pedometer is used for, and then discussed the many health benefits of proper exercise. Everyone agreed that exercise for elders is a mood booster, increases energy, decreases disability and hospitalizations, and overall increases health.
Following their discussion on exercise, Dr. Kardonsky led the Wisdom Warriors in several exercises that were performed while sitting in their chairs for a full minute at a time. Sit-down exercises included arm raises, chair walking and leg raises.
“Sometimes people tell me, ‘I don’t feel so steady on my feet’ or ‘I’m worried I’m going to fall’, so these are exercises you can do while sitting, while watching TV even,” says Dr. Kardonsky to the group of exercising Wisdom Warriors. “Some people think you can’t build up a sweat while sitting down, but yes you can. There are different kinds of exercises. There’s the cardio kinds that get your blood and heart pumping. There’s strength, where you build up muscle. And then there’s flexibility and balance, things like stretching or yoga or Tai Chi. All of those different kinds of exercising have a role and I think as long as you are getting some of each your overall health will greatly benefit.
“You can talk to a hundred different health care providers and you’ll probably get a hundred different ideas, but my thought is getting some exercise in every day or close to every day is really important. Even if you haven’t exercised in a long time it’s not too late to be physically active and you will benefit greatly from that. Whether it’s going for a walk with a friend where you can catch up or doing some bursts of exercise while you watching your favorite show or working in your garden…it’s all exercise that will promote a healthier lifestyle.”
After the series of sit-down exercises, the Wisdom Warriors replenished their bodies with a healthy and energy filled lunch consisting of an assortment of fruits, coleslaw and turkey and chicken sandwiches.
Every elder who becomes a participant in the Wisdom Warrior program is committed to living a healthier lifestyle. The number of participants continues to grow as more tribal elders come together to prioritize health and wellness.
You are invited to join Wisdom Warriors and start your path to better health, with the support of your community. Class locations can vary. Please call 360-716-5642 or go to the Tulalip Health Clinic for more information.
Contact Micheal Rios, firstname.lastname@example.org