Adults, seniors, retirees can find exercise all around on Western Edge

Safe and engaging spaces abound for people of all ages and abilities to come together and participate in recreational and educational activities within the community.

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The SilverSneaks class walks in place. Chairs are provided, as needed by the participants.
Dickinson Press file photo

DICKINSON – You see that light at the end of the winter tunnel? You feel the temperatures slacking up and the possibilities lining up for outdoor exercise? Do you feel like Punxsutawney Phil has moved next door to you here in Dickinson and he saw his shadow again-again?

Your winter blues are shared by pretty much everybody at this point, but for those people who are looking for ways to get outdoors – especially senior citizens and retirees – there are abundant opportunities just around the corner. Whether it’s a program at West River Community Center or some items on the area events calendar, there are plenty of ways for people to shake off that winter weight and get moving again (just so long as the weather complies soon, we hope).

Among some of the items that are easily accessible will be the coming league softball season, the registration for which is on Thursday, April 6. The league is for young adults and older, between the ages of 16 and up (those younger than 18 must have parental approval), and the league gets started May 15. For more information, please visit .

For those who are interested in getting into the outdoorsy pursuit of hiking and are eagerly wanting to get outside and camp, a great way to see some of the best natural amenities in the entire country would be to get out to Theodore Roosevelt National Park for “free-entrance day” on April 16, which is less than two weeks away. The park, located just outside of Medora west on Interstate 94 will be welcoming guests for free that day – in honor of National Park Week – and also has three more free-entrance days scheduled on Aug. 4, Sept. 24 and Nov. 11 of this year. All are great opportunities to place on the future calendar for everybody and anybody to enjoy.

But here a little closer to home, people are anticipating next week, when the temperatures are allegedly going to rise into the 60s or 70s – and we will believe THAT when we see it – and folks will be wanting to get outdoors and flex their muscles. West River Community Center has been hosting a gang of activities during the winter this year, which has admittedly dragged on for far too long, and now people are seeing the grass starting to shoot through the snow as the ice recedes into a hopefully distant memory.


But in the meantime, Brianna Baker, who is the group fitness coordinator at West River and contributes to senior program development for Silver Sneakers as well, has been working on ways for folks to get the joints limbered up and the blood flowing to the extremities. Among the most-popular senior activities always will be the beautiful Heart River Golf Course – with its driving range and other attractions – but people also stay active on local hiking trails, tennis courts, in pickleball and in the weight room or on the community center’s walking track.

“I think the biggest part of what we try to do for our senior programming – or what I try to do – is to inspire older adults to just live a healthier, fuller and longer life,” Baker said. “So, a lot of our seniors have done the work and they’ve put in the time and they’re just looking for a way to just extend their lives.

“So, with the senior programming at the community center and through Dickinson Parks & Rec in general, we like to lead our seniors into different experiences and those experiences will help them adapt their lives through limitations they might come upon as they grow older.”

Baker said the programs are designed to flow evenly from winter to spring and on to summer, building as they go.

“A body in motion stays in motion,” Baker said. “I just preach that because it also keeps your mind sharp and strong.”

There also is a group of older adults who get together monthly through Silver Sneakers – a program encouraged by most retirees insurance programs at a reduced or free cost – and is for those 65 and older. Through the program at WRCC, there are fitness classes almost every day of the week, Monday to Friday, that includes everything from aqua aerobics to lifting weights that can be either in a chair or free-weights. There also are yoga stretch classes and cardio classes at varying times throughout the year. There also will soon be walking challenge opened up for all members of the community center to participate in throughout the summer that is called "Walking Bingo," where participants meet certain challenges after registering and receiving their bingo cards each square represents a different area — from Crooked Crane Trail, interval training or n evening walk with a friend — and designed to encourage daily activity.

"Walking is such an underrated exercise and it's one of the best for your heart," Baker said. "We slowly transition from our winter activities into summer, and we also have offered morning outdoor aerobics and I'm hoping to do that again. All of these classes are included in the membership at West River Community Center."

Baker said all folks have to do is call or visit the Web site to find out more.


“We have a wide variety of opportunities – on land or in the water – and classes that we offer, and bi-monthly and quarterly we have a potluck club, where I like to get everybody together and we ask men and women to bring something to share when we get together,” Baker said. “And we visit and enjoy coffee and in the future we’re looking to bring in speakers for the club, whether it’s a health-care professional or somebody who can answer questions about aging of bloodwork or thyroid work or something like that.

“We just like to keep the senior community engaged, in not only fitness but each other.”

For more information about the West River Community Center, please visit 2004 Fairway Drive in Dickinson or the Web site at . They also can be reached at 701-456-2070. For more information about the community’s coming events calendar, please visit .

Gaylon is a sportswriter from Jensen Beach, Fla., but has lived all over the world. Growing up with an athletic background gave him a love of sports that led to a journalism career in such places as Enid, Okla., Alamogordo, N.M., Pascagoula, Miss. and Viera, Fla. since 1998. His main passion is small-town community sports, particularly baseball and soccer.
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