Thursday, July 23, 2009

Seniors' Cane-Fu

There's a new exercise trend. It's not kung-fu. It's cane-fu, and it's empowering seniors to fight back.

They may have canes, but think twice before bothering one of these seniors. They're practicing cane-fu.

Cane-fu is the brainchild of Dr. Sheldon Zinberg, who thought elderly people who used canes were targets. The class is a mix of aerobics and self-defense, and canes are the weapons!

"We can teach almost anyone how to break a chokehold with a cane. That one movement alone makes them feel more secure," Zinberg said.

The class makes the students sturdier on their feet.

"I come here by referral by my doctor, and he's amazed," said 69-year-old Lewis Cable, a class participant.

The seniors also report feeling safer when they go out and being more independent.

"We've had people with walkers and canes, who a year after being in the program, no longer required their walkers or canes," Zinberg said.

Cable is one of those students. He came to the center 13 months ago in a wheelchair.

"It gives me much better balance. I'm not afraid to go up and down curbs. I have no fear of going anywhere because I think I can defend myself," Cable said.

Zinberg said reviews from members show his classes have helped reduce falls by 89 percent and fractures by 85 percent. Cane-fu classes are currently being taught around the country.

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