Fitness program aimed at Veterans

  • Thursday, August 29, 2013

Four veterans in the VA’s MOVE program gather after attending a class with regular martial arts students at Coastal Kenpo in Goose Creek. STEFAN ROGENMOSER/GAZETTE

Coastal Kenpo Karate instructor Nick Dreiling spent a recent night showing U.S. Veterans R.C. Tanner, Sylvester James, Leroy Seabrook, James Ravenel how to fall properly, stretch, warm up and stay fit.
A regular class joined the four Lowcountry veterans at a judo and jujitsu self-defense session on Aug. 15.
“Self-defense is keeping yourself from being a target,” Dreiling said. “We’re going to try to find a way to do this quarterly for all the veterans.”
The veterans who attended are enrolled in the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs national weight management program M.O.V.E. (Managing Overweight and Obese Veterans Everywhere).
“Warm up when you get up every day,” Dreiling said. “Have healthy nutrition. Park six spaces back at the grocery store.
“Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Run in place. Do jumping jacks. Improve cardiovascular health. Improve flexibility.”
He said these exercises would mean less injuries.
Nurse practitioner Rebecca Luhrs, the MOVE Coordinator for Charleston’s Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, also attended. It was mandated in 2008 that MOVE would be available to all veterans everywhere in the VA program, she said.
MOVE groups meet regularly at the Bee Street facility in Charleston. The VA has outpatient clinics by Trident Hospital and the Goose Creek Naval Weapons Station, Luhrs said.
“What we do is help veterans lose weight, get healthy and make healthier lifestyle choices,” Luhrs said. “They feel better, live better and do things that help. “Losing weight is a combination of changing what you eat and being more active. It’s important to find something you like to do. Being active and exercising is healthy and can be a lot more fun.”
Luhrs said all the veterans who attended the class in Goose Creek have been part of the Charleston MOVE program for years.
“Working on your weight and obesity is usually a lifelong struggle,” Luhrs said. “As they make changes we’re here for them. We encourage them to lose more weight or maintain their weight loss. We’re here for them as long as it takes.
“We have quite a few people who have lost five percent of their body weight and kept it off. We have a pretty fair number that’s lost 10 percent or more and kept it off. Those that start the program and stick with it, they’re successful in losing weight.
“The longer someone is in the program the more apt they are to stick with it and make lifestyle changes.”
The program is a no-brainer, Luhr said.
“I think it’s really smart because it’s free to veterans. You can’t beat it with a stick. Our eight classes are pretty structured. We do questions and answers to get the point across.
“Seated yoga class is pretty aerobic. We do some chair exercise. We take walks downtown to Joe Riley Stadium, we play badminton . . . we have been funded for some indoor games. A (Nintendo) Wii was donated to us.
“We try to make activity and exercise fun … whatever gets people out of their chair and doing something.”
Luhrs said 30 minutes of activity a day is crucial.
“If someone weighs 200 pounds and loses 10 percent, 20 pounds they’ll feel less pain, have lower blood pressure,” he said. “They’ll feel better, and it reduces blood sugars and cholesterol.
“Weight loss can reduce certain types of cancer, improve circulation, improve breathing … numerous kinds of arthritis will be alleviated. It helps improve sleep apnea, and it’s great in prevention.”

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