Free classes available at Pratt Senior Center.

One in four Kansans is physically inactive. Count Wanda Richardson as a proud member of the minority. Three times a week, she leads an exercise program at the Pratt Senior Center, a job she says she "got into just by being there."

The center has offered a free exercise class for several years, and Richardson was a member when the previous leader moved away. The class is open to anyone, and currently attracts 8 to 14 women age 70 and over. It's a full-body workout, she said, including exercises for the shoulders, neck, back and legs, with special focus on balance.

Resistance bands in three strengths are used — newbies start with a light band, or no band at all, and work up as they feel comfortable.

"Nobody is pressed to do anything they don't want to do," Richardson noted.

She started doing aerobic exercise when she was 60 and switched to resistance bands several years ago.

"I'm 78 years old and still pretty agile," she commented. "I've been blessed, but I've worked at it."

Classes meet from 11 to 11:30 Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Senior Center, 619 North Main.

It's good for you

• Regular exercise can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities.

• It's effective in treating many chronic conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and problems with balance.

• Exercise can help manage stress, improve mood and maintain some aspects of cognitive function.

• "Taking it easy" is risky. For the most part, when people lose their ability to do things on thier own, it doesn't happen just because they've aged. It's usually becuse they're not active.

• Most older adults can safely increase their physical activity to a moderate level. Check with your doctor if you are at high risk for chronic diseases, if you smoke or are obese.