Three times a week, as dawn breaks over the Willamette Valley, 25 women show up at the Benton Center gym in Corvallis. Their exercise clothes are loose and casual. No spandex for this crowd. On average, they’re my mother’s age and as feisty as they are friendly. “Oh, there’s men creatures in here,” clucks one when she sees me and a photographer. “Watch where you point that camera,” says another.
They hang up coats and put on tennis shoes. Some don weighted vests. Under bright lights and past mirrors and brightly colored exercise balls, they begin to walk around the gym. They share the latest news about themselves (“I walked four miles yesterday to see a friend”) and their families (“At the bone lab yesterday, my grandson got all excited because he got to see my skeleton”). Then they collect in a circle so the instructor can lead them through exercises that have them stretching, lunging, panting and “glistening” (not sweating, says one) for an hour.
For these women, the Better Bones and Balance class provides more than a few laughs and a faster pulse. It generates resilience. For some, it has already meant the difference between avoiding a fall and taking a trip to the hospital. OSU laboratory tests confirm that exercisers strengthen muscles and maintain or increase bone mass, reducing the risk of debilitating injury.
Resilience, the ability to adapt or recover from injury, comes into play in our cover story, too. Salmon researchers aim to increase the resilience of this iconic Northwest fish. The future of salmon depends on two things: their ability to respond to habitat changes and our management of hatcheries, watersheds and harvesting practices.
Resilience is also a cultural asset. Teaching Oregon Native Languages offers a view of language diversity at the time of statehood. Today, the native language movement is preserving knowledge and experience that has been encoded in the way people speak.
As exercisers know, building resilience takes work and commitment, but it’s well worth the effort. Our future depends on it.
- Nick Houtman,