Cheney Free Press -


Cheney can help Sit and Be Fit

Nationally syndicated, Spokane-originated show seeks volunteers to help demonstrate exercise's effectiveness


Sit and Be Fit

Sit and Be Fit founder and host Mary Ann Wilson with the Aurora Gold Award she received for the COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) workout.

A nationally syndicated exercise show is coming to Cheney looking for volunteers to help them prove a point – that staying healthy and fit doesn't have to be rigorous and hard.

"Sit and Be Fit," a Public Broadcasting System exercise show and non-profit health organization that began in Spokane 26 years ago is holding an informational meeting Wednesday, Jan. 15, at the Cheney Care Center to sign up volunteers for a study they hope will provide hard data on the success of the exercise regime. Eight Eastern Washington University seniors are supervising the study as part of their exercise science capstone project for instructor Wendy Repovich.

"The idea is to collect enough data to be able to get a larger study funded," Sit and Be Fit producer/director and communication specialist Gretchen Wilson said.

Wilson's mother Mary Ann, a registered nurse and the show's host, began the program in 1987 because she saw that nobody was designing exercise shows for people who weren't able to do the more rigorous regimes like aerobics. Today, Sit and Be Fit reaches 86 million households annually and has been recognized by the National Council on Aging as a "Best Practice" program promoting healthy aging.

Gretchen Wilson said over the years they have accumulated lots of subjective data in the form of testimonials from users about how the program has benefited them. In order to be able to apply for partnerships with other health organizations through grant funding, the show needs to provide more "evidence-based" data that the exercises work.

Wilson said "mostly anybody" can participate in the study – the program has also proved popular with people rehabilitating from serious injury who aren't able to be more physically active – but that they are really looking for a good group of about 25 or so age 60 and over.

Repovich said interested volunteers would receive physical assessments from the functional fitness test for seniors. Those include tests like the two-minute step test to determine cardiovascular abilities, strength tests for upper and lower body, and three tests for balance: how long they can stand on one foot, how far forward they can reach before taking a step and the timed "8 foot up and go" test.

Volunteers for the study will be required to do Sit and Be Fit three times a week for a minimum of three months, and possibly up to six if more EWU students sign up to supervise in spring quarter. Repovich hopes to have all the participants tested by the end of January, with exercise beginning in February and running to May when they will do post-testing assessments.

"If someone is interested, because the activity is 'portable' they can do it anywhere as long as they have access to a TV," she wrote in an email. "The commitment will be to do the pre- and post-testing with us."

The Jan. 15 meeting begins at 9 a.m., with free coffee, donuts and fruit served. Free program DVDs will be given away, and Mary Ann Wilson will be on hand to answer questions. For more information contact Brianna at the Cheney Care Center at 235-6196.

John McCallum can be reached at


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