Lifting Weights Helps Older Women Stay HealthySubmitted: 05/02/2013
Story By Lex Gray

TOMAHAWK - If you walk into the gym, you'll see a clear divide women on the treadmills and ellipticals, men in the weight room.

But more women in the Northwoods are crossing over, thanks to a program called StrongWomen.

Marge Hayes considers the program part of her recovery from a stroke she suffered a stroke back in June 2011.

"It affected my vision and my balance primarily," Hayes said. "I was very, very fatigued after the stroke and that meant a lot of sitting in a chair."

But Hayes isn't the type to take a stroke lying down. So she lifted herself up and started lifting weights.

"It's an addiction."

The fix is Hayes's twice-weekly classes with the StrongWomen program through UW-Extension.

Bonnie Rudie started training women in Tomahawk a year and a half ago.

"We started with one class and from there it mushroomed to three classes," Rudie said. "The biggest advertisement was the women, because they're feeling better, they're doing things they couldn't do before. "

"I think our entire neighborhood comes," Hayes said. "Keeping all of these women strong and healthy is good for the community as well."

It's also good for family. Rudie started the class with her own mother in mind.

"My mother was obese and she probably died earlier than she should have. I don't want my kids or my grandkids thinking I wish grandma or mom took care of herself,'" Rudie said. "So I've always been conscious of it, but as I've gotten older, I see that I need to work a little harder at it."

StrongWomen participants find working harder isn't so hard when it's fun.

"I really, really enjoy it," Hayes said. "When there's a break between the sessions, I miss it."

"These women love to come. They get to know each other, they bond with each other," Rudie said. "And when you feel better, your emotions are in better shape, too."

You can register for the fall session of StrongWomen by calling Lincoln County UW-Extension at 715-539-1072.

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