Every morning, Becki Yoder of rural Peabody gets up at 3:30 so she has time to get in a four-mile run before going to work as the Director of Health and Fitness at Pine Village in Moundridge. Her dedication to fitness and training does not seem unusual to her.
“This is something I have always been interested in, a lifelong thing,” she said. “Even as a young child I was always reading nutritional labels and finding ways to eat and live healthy.”
Yoder grew up in Topeka and attended Emporia State University where she met her future husband, Evan Yoder.
“We came to Marion County as park rangers at the reservoir,” she said. “That was probably close to 30 years ago.”
Since that time, the couple raised four sons in the Hillsboro and Peabody communities and settled into other jobs, but for Becki Yoder, her work, and life, always centered on sharing healthy living experiences with others. For the past 13 years she has used the swimming pool and fitness room at the Pine Village campus to help others of all ages find ways to get healthy. Prior to that, she worked at Kidron-Bethel in Newton in a similar capacity.
“As a director at Moundridge, I teach a ton of classes in land and aquatic fitness,” she said. “We work with weights, balance, flexibility, strength training, and core development.”
Yoder said her care facility was in an alliance with 20 other nursing home and elderly care facilities, including several from Marion County.
“I spend a lot of time helping folks find where their weak or strong areas are and then fitting them into a health program to meet their needs,” she said.
Yoder offered suggestions for people trying to improve their health and fitness.
“It’s important to keep exercise simple,” she said. “Keep it easy and work on just some basic stretching exercises at first.”
Push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and lunges topped her list of exercises everybody could do without needing to invest in expensive equipment.
“If you cannot get on the floor, wall sits are good, and pull-ups on the kitchen sink are just as effective,” she said. “The important thing is to try to work all the planes of your body and to strengthen your core muscles.”
Yoder said working frontal, back, and side planes of the body was important to enhance or strengthen balance which often deteriorates as the body ages. Core strength also helps with balance issues, she said.
“I think the best explanation of core strength I have heard was, if you take a body and cut off the arms, legs, and head, everything else is the core,” she said. “It is important to activate those core muscles because they support everything else.”
Yoder said one simple fitness technique she recommended was the purchase of a pedometer to keep track of steps taken each day.
“This is just a fun, motivational activity,” she said. “It really is an awareness tool to keep track of how many steps you do, or do not, take each day.”
Yoder recommended setting a goal of 10,000 steps per day.
“10,000 steps is equivalent to five miles,” she said. “The cardio-vascular benefits from taking that many easy steps each day is just phenomenal.”
Yoder said she just started a 12-week challenge for her clients at Pine Village to take one million steps. It takes a few more than 10,000 steps per day to reach one million steps in 12 weeks, but she said it motivated people to take more than they thought possible to reach this goal.
Yoder also recommended interval training for those interesting in a more vigorous workout than simple walking.
“Interval training is the best way to get in shape quickly,” she said. “You only need 20 minutes per day and in that time you include a warm-up stretching period, 30 seconds of hard running or exercise, 90 seconds of easy movement or even rest, then just repeat the sequence eight times.”
With a cool down period added, Yoder said 20-minute interval training could help people lose six to 10 lbs. per week.
“Exercise stimulates the human growth hormone,” she said. “That is what helps you get stronger, burn more calories, and increase metabolism.”
Yoder also had some simple eating advice for those wanting to get healthier in the New Year.
“You need to decrease portion sizes, replace soda pop in the diet with water, and eat in color,” she said. “If you look at fast food you will see it is all basically the same color. Raw foods are so much better for you and have more color. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best for the human body.”
Yoder said she and her husband liked to bicycle together and participate in a road race or two each month.
“I am always wanting to run faster, jump higher, and not get older,” she said. “Exercise is one way I can keep reaching for those goals.”