Building a Better Life Begins with Nutrition and Exercise

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It’s never too late to build a better life. Just ask Jan, 76, who said her life started changing for the better earlier this year when she joined a Bingocize® class offered by CICOA.

“I’ve lost seven pounds. I have more energy. I used to never get up until around 10:30. Mama’s up by eight o’clock every morning now!” she said brightly.

Bingocize is an evidence-based program for healthy aging developed at Western Kentucky University. The program combines the simple game of Bingo with exercise and nutrition education for older adults. Research shows it improves strength, mental cognition and fall prevention awareness.

CICOA’s Meals & More staff led the 10-week Bingocize class on Tuesdays and Fridays following its mid-day meal service at the Cambridge Square Apartments of Beech Grove. Meals & More provides more than a half million meals annually to older adults across Central Indiana through home meal delivery and at neighborhood sites like Cambridge Square.

Bingocize at Cambridge Square
Bingocize participants learn simple exercises for strength and balance.

Exercise, fresh produce and nutrition education all lead to improved health and increased energy

“I did the exercises twice a week in class and on my own the days before. And I’ve learned a lot about nutrition, the foods I should be eating or not eating, and how to prep meals. I’ve changed my diet. Everyone’s noticed because I’m starting to lose the inches now. I get teary, because I’m proud of myself,” she said.

Although Jan has slowed down with age, she said the classes helped improve her stamina.

 “I’m going to go home and do some cooking and cleaning now. Before, I wouldn’t feel like it, but now I’m ready to go,” she said.

Jan also attributes her improved health with eating fresh produce that she gets twice a month, made  available to CICOA meal site participants through a grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.

“I get the fresh produce boxes, and I prep the food. Like the carrots—I use my potato peeler and peel and shred them and put them in baggies. Some I freeze, and the rest I use for salads,” she said.

Meals & More registered dietitians work with meal site participants who receive the produce boxes to make sure they know how to prepare and enjoy the fruits and vegetables.

“I never knew how to cut a pineapple before,” Jan continued. “Now I eat fresh pineapple and tangerines and grapes and strawberries. Delicious!”

Bingocize with CICOA at Cambridge Square
CICOA staff provide nutrition education and teach simple exercises for older adults at Bingocize classes at a neighborhood meal site

The Indianapolis native has lived at Cambridge Square for 10 years. Married twice, the divorced-then-widowed mother of three has 12 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren. She loves to cook and entertain.

“I have quite a few parties. A lot of the women will come over, and we’ll play Euchre or other card games till 10 or 11 o’clock at night. They’ll bring candy and other snacks. But now I tell them, ‘I don’t eat that stuff. Give me that banana over there,’”  Jan said. “Yes, this has really changed my life.”


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