Better Strength, Better Balance! Exercise Program

Better Strength, Better Balance! is a fall prevention exercise and education program for people aged 65+. It is a beginner level program for those wishing to improve their strength and balance. Strong muscles, strong bones and better balance will make you more mobile and less likely to fall.

This program is funded by the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) through the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre, and is a collaborative effort between Ottawa Public Health and Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services.

Am I strong enough to participate safely?

You are strong enough to participate safely if you can do ALL of the following:

  • stand on one foot for 2 seconds
  • stand for 20 minutes (e.g. in a grocery line)
  • walk one block (100 metres or 325 feet) without becoming out of breath and needing to sit down
  • walk up 10 stairs

Better Strength, Better Balance! classes are unsuitable for people who are very active.

  • Participants attend class twice a week for 10-12 weeks.
  • Classes are progressive, becoming increasingly difficult over the 10-12 weeks.
  • Participants practice exercises at home and review the provided health information related to preventing falls.
  • A variety of simple equipment is used, including bean bags, cones, stretch bands, and balls.

If you are not strong enough to participate in the Better Strength, Better Balance! program, please call Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 or visit the Champlain Healthline website to explore safer options.  

Register now for free

 First time participant registration - Now closed
Registration is only open for first time participants who have never participated in the program. Please call Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 to register.
 Returning participant registration - Now closed

For returning participants, there is a new online process to be waitlisted, no need to call Ottawa Public Health. Please keep in mind that this is an entry level program and first time participants are given priority when registering to the program. As your strength and balance improves, you are encouraged to progress to other exercise programs for older adults, which will benefit you.

The City of Ottawa, community centres and fitness centres offer many opportunities for you to meet new people and be physically active in your neighbourhood.

 Click here for alternative options

The new online waitlist form is not a first come first serve system. It is open now until August 16th. Priority will be based on frequency of previous Better Strength, Better Balance (BSBB) attendance. Returning BSBB participants can register using the online waitlist form to be placed on a waitlist system electronically at their convenience.

Registrants can go to the online waitlist form to input their first and second choice of classes only once. You will receive an e-mail confirmation of your waitlist choices only if you provide it. If you do not have an e-mail address please print the e-mail confirmation of your waitlist choices for your own records.

Confirmation of registration will be sent to registrants by early September either by phone or e-mail (before Recreation, Culture and Facility Services online registration for other exercise programs see alternative options tab above).

 Frequently asked questions
 
 What if I don't have a computer or an e-mail address?
 Please call 613 580-6744 if you do not have an e-mail address or computer access.
 How will I know if you received my request?
 If you share your e-mail address, a confirmation summary of your online form will be e-mailed to you.

 What if my information requested has changed?

 If you have updates to the form, please contact bsbb.efee@ottawa.ca
 What if I want to register after August 16th?
 Please call 613 580-6744 after August 16 to determine if any additional spaces are available.
 What if I have never taken Better Strength, Better Balance before?
If you have never taken Better Strength, Better Balance before please call 613 580-6744 and we can help determine the appropriate fall prevention exercise program for you.

Did you like the Better Strength, Better Balance! program?

 Why not try the Step with confidence program? 

The Step with Confidence Program Series is broken into 3 steps or “levels” that progressively increase in intensity, resistance and cardiovascular requirements. Step 1 is similar to the Better Strength, Better Balance! program's intensity.

 

Browse and Register for all recreation and culture classes, activities and programs

 

These steps offer something suitable for every level of adults 50+!

Step 1 (similar to Better Strength, Better Balance!)

These programs and classes are offered at a lesser intensity

  • Strength and Balance Older Adult - Lite

  • Stretch and Strength Older Adult - Lite (Heart Wise Exercise)

  • Stretch Older Adult

  • Cardio and Strength Older Adult (Heart Wise Exercise)

  • Aqua General - Lite

Step 2

These programs and classes offer a variety of lower intensity to moderate intensity challenges

  • Balance and Stability Older Adult (Heart Wise Exercise)

  • Strength Traning Older Adult (small group)

  • Stretch and Strength 50+

  • Cardio Older Adult - Lite

  • Yoga Older Adult - Lite

  • Pilates Older Adult - Lite

Step 3

These programs are not considered for beginners but those looking to improve their existing level of fitness

  • Pilates Older Adult

  • Nordic Walking Older Adult

  • Yoga Older Adult (Heart Wise Exercise)

  • Party On Older Adult

  • Total Muscle Conditioning (TMC) Older Adult

  • Zumba Gold Older Adult

Schedule

Central

Location

Address

Start/End   Date

Day and Time

OC Transpo Bus Routes

Alexander Community Centre Main Hall

960 Silver St, Ottawa

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 to 10:30 am

80

Alexander Community Centre Main Hall 

960 Silver St, Ottawa

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 to 1:00 pm

80 

Fisher Heights Community Place - Main Hall

31 Sutton Place, Nepean

Sep 18

Nov 22

Wednesday and Friday 1:15 to 2:15 pm

88

McNabb Community Centre  Fitness Studio 

180 Percy St., Ottawa

Sep 18

Dec 2

Monday and Wednesday 10:30 to 11:30 am

14, 85

McNabb Community Centre  Fitness Studio

180 Percy St., Ottawa

Sep 18

Dec 2

Monday and Wednesday 11:30 to 12:30 pm

14, 85 

McNabb Community Centre  Fitness Studio

180 Percy St., Ottawa

Sep 18

Dec 2

Monday and Wednesday 12:30 to 1:30 pm

14, 85 

Richelieu Vanier Community Centre -Kiwanis Hall

(This class is presented in French)

300 Pères-Blancs Ave, Ottawa

 

 

Sep 16

Nov 27

 

 

Monday and

Wednesday

1 to 2 pm

 5, 19

Richelieu Vanier Community Centre -Kiwanis Hall

(This class is presented in English) 

300 Pères-Blancs Ave, Ottawa  

Sep 16

Nov 27

 

 

Monday and

Wednesday

2 to 3 pm

 5, 19
West

Location

Address

Start/End   Date

Day and Time

OC Transpo Bus Routes

West Carleton Community Complex

5670 Carp Rd, Kinburn

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 9:15 to 10:15 am

 

Kanata Recreation Centre -Program Room Upstairs

100 Charlie Rogers Pl, Kanata

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 10 to 11 am

88

Kanata Recreation Centre -Program Room Upstairs

100 Charlie Rogers Pl, Kanata

Sep 16

Nov 27

Monday and Wednesday

11:45 am to 12:45 pm

 88

Michele Heights Community Centre, Gym

2955 Michele Dr, Ottawa

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 9 to 10 am

85, 11, 97, 82

Michele Heights Community Centre, Gym

2955 Michele Dr, Ottawa

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 10:15 to 11:15 am

85, 11, 97, 82

Goulbourn Town Hall- Council Chambers

2135 Huntley Rd, Stittsville

Sep 16

Nov 27

Monday and Wednesday 11 am to noon

 

Richmond Arena, Upstairs Hall 

6095 Perth St., Richmond

Sep 16

Dec 2

Monday and Wednesday 1 to 2 pm

 

Richmond Arena, Upstairs Hall

6095 Perth St., Richmond

Sep 16

Dec 2

Monday and Wednesday 2 to 3 pm

 

Huntley Community Mess Hall (formerly Carp)

2240 Craig Side Rd., Carp

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 12:30 to 1:30 pm

 

East

Location

Address

Start/End   Date

Day and Time

OC Transpo Bus Routes

Blackburn Hamlet Community Hall

190 Glen Park Dr, Gloucester

Sep 16

Nov 29

Monday and Friday 2:20 to 3:20 pm

94, 28

Blackburn Hamlet Community Hall

190 Glen Park Dr, Gloucester

Sep 16

Nov 29

Monday and Friday 3:30 to 4:30 pm 94, 28

Dempsey Community Centre-Gym

1895 Russell Rd, Ottawa

Sep 16

Nov 27

Monday and Wednesday 9:30 to 10:30 am

86

Fred Barrett Arena Leitrim-Lions Hall

3280 Leitrim Rd, Gloucester

Sep 16

Nov 27

Monday and Wednesday 12:30 to 1:30 pm

93

Navan Memorial Community Centre, Hall

1295 Colonial Dr, Navan

Sep 16

Dec 2

Monday: 12:30 to 1:30 pm Thursday: 11 am to noon

 

R.J. Kennedy Memorial Community Centre

1115 Dunning Rd, Cumberland

Sep 16

Dec 6

Monday and Friday 9:30 to 10:30 am

 

South Fallingbrook Community Centre (This class is presented in French) 

998 Valin St, Orleans

Sep 16

Nov 29

Monday and Friday 9:30 to 10:30 am

94, 122

South Fallingbrook Community Centre

998 Valin St, Orleans

Sep 16

Nov 29

Monday and Friday 10:30 to 11:30 am 94, 122

Splash Wave Pool

2040 Ogilvie Rd, Gloucester

Sep 16

Nov 27

Monday and Wednesday 11:30 am to 12:30 pm 91, 33

Splash Wave Pool

2040 Ogilvie Rd, Gloucester

Sep 16

Nov 27

Monday and Wednesday 12:30 to 1:30 pm 91, 33

Queenswood Heights Community Centre (This class is presented in French)

1485 Duford Dr, Orleans

Sep 17

Nov 22

Tuesday and Friday 10:30 to 11:30 am

 

Queenswood Heights Community Centre

  

1485 Duford Dr, Orleans

Sep 17

Nov 22

Tuesday and Friday 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 pm

 

South

Location

Address

Start/End Date

Day and Time

OC Transpo Bus Routes

Albion Heatherington Community Centre, Gym 

1560 Heatherington Rd, Ottawa

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 

1:15 to 2:15 pm

44, 291

Chapman Mills Community Building, Main Hall

424 Chapman Mills Dr, Ottawa

Sep 16

Nov 28

Monday and Thursday 12:45 to 1:45 pm

99

Chapman Mills Community Building, Main Hall

424 Chapman Mills Dr, Ottawa

Sep 16

Nov 28

Monday and Thursday 2 to 3 pm

99

Greely Community Centre, Hall B

1448 Meadow Dr, Greely

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 2 to 3 pm

 

Rideauview Community Centre

4310 Shoreline Dr, Gloucester

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 12:30 to 1:30 pm

99

Rideauview Community Centre

4310 Shoreline Dr, Gloucester

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 1:30 to 2:30 pm

99

Sawmill Creek Community Centre

3380 D'Aoust Ave, Gloucester

Sep 17

Nov 21

Tuesday and Thursday 1 to 2 pm

293

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should register?
Better Strength, Better Balance! is available to older adults aged 65+ with priority given to first time participants. It is not appropriate for people who are extremely active, or for those who have a hard time walking or standing for long periods.  
How do I know if I am strong enough to participate safely?
You are likely strong enough if you can do ALL of the following:
  • stand on one foot for 2 seconds
  • stand for 20 minutes (e.g. in a grocery line)
  • walk one block (100 metres or 325 feet) without becoming out of breath and needing to sit down
  • walk up 10 stairs
I use a cane and occasionally use a walker. Can I register?
Call Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 to discuss your situation. You might not be strong enough to participate.
I rely on a walker/scooter/wheelchair most of the time to get around. Can I join the class?
It is not safe for you to participate in this program. Call Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 to find out about other programs that will better meet your needs.
I am very active, have always participated in sports, and regularly go to the gym. Will this class be too easy for me?
Yes. You will likely find that this class is not challenging enough. If you have problems with your balance, however, you should
consider registering.

Attendance requirement

Why am I encouraged to attend at least 80% of the classes?

This is a progressive class to increase your strength and balance. Regular attendance will allow you to achieve the health benefits, and reduce your chance of falling. It is recommended that older adults participate in 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity every week, in addition to strength and balance activities. It is essential and very important for you to attend the first two weeks of classes in order to stay for all classes. 

Commitment is also important because this program is offered with limited public funds and there is a cancellation list for those who would like the opportunity to join.

Participants are also encouraged to follow the Better Strength, Better Balance! fall prevention exercise and education program on Rogers TV 22 which airs Monday to Friday at 2:30 pm

Dates and times subject to change. Check the Rogers 22 program schedule for airing dates and times.

I am going on holiday for two weeks. Can I still register?
It is essential and very important for you to attend the first two weeks of classes in order to stay for all classes. As the classes are progressive, missing a block of time is not recommended. Consider joining the next session. The program is offered in the winter, spring and fall. 
I may be missing a class (or a few classes) because I am sick or have an appointment. Who do I call?
You do not need to call anyone if you are missing a class.
I am no longer able to participate in the program. Who do I call?
Call Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 to withdraw from the program.  

Age requirement

I am under 65 years old. Can I register?
This program is for adults 65 years or older the day the course begins.

 Registration process

Can I just show up and attend these classes, since there is no charge?
No. You must register to attend. Please do not show up for class unless you are registered. This is not a drop-in program. 
I called and left a message with Ottawa Public Health after registration opened. Am I registered?
No. Someone will call you back within two or three business days to register you. This program is very popular, and phone lines are very busy during the first week of registration. If you leave a message, you will hear back from Ottawa Public Health. Please do not leave more than one message.
Should I visit my doctor before I go to my first class?

Complete the Get Active Questionnaire (Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP)). This self-assessment will direct you to your doctor if needed. The Get Active Questionnaire is also mailed to you with your registration confirmation. There is no need to bring your completed Get Active Questionnaire form to class.

What do I need to bring to class?

Bring a water bottle. Wear comfortable, loose clothing and non-marking soled running shoes.  

 Program locations and transportation

Why is there no class near where I live?
This program has limited funding. Classes are located throughout the city, but unfortunately they are not available in every neighbourhood.
I have registered for a class, but do not know how to get there. Can you help? 

Most program locations are accessible by OC Transpo. Ottawa Public Health can tell you which bus stops closest to your class. If you require more detailed information about bus routes, call OC Transpo at Access OC Hotline at 613-842-3625 (TTY: 613-741-5280) or plan your trip using the OC Transpo Travel Planner.  

Resources 

Check your risk for falling

Man looking sitting with laptop

Check your risk for falling

Public health units and agencies within the Champlain Local Health Integration Network have adopted a self-screening tool called "The Staying Independent Checklist". An older adult or their caregiver can complete and identify their risk for having a fall. They are encouraged to discuss their results with their health care provider. 

Check your risk of falling with the Staying Independent Checklist [361 KB]

You CAN prevent falls [374 KB] 

Taking Care of My Health: Falls Prevention video campaign.

One in four seniors fall each year.  It is estimated that there are 200,000 annual visits to Ottawa emergency rooms related to falls, most of which involve older adults (Burden of Injury, 2010).

  • Most falls are preventable.
  • Ottawa Public Health's "Taking Care of My Health" Falls Prevention video campaign was created to increase public awareness of falls in older adults and encourage healthy and safe behaviours to reduce this risk.

The following videos highlight the importance of:

  • Strength and balance exercises
  • Preventing a fall in your home
  • Reporting a fall to your health care provider
  • Including calcium and vitamin D for strong bones
Keeping your bones healthy

Calcium and vitamin D are good for your bones and more...

  • Calcium helps your heart, muscles and nerves work properly.

  • Your body needs vitamin D to absorb and use calcium.

Get your calcium from food

  • Try to eat at least 3 servings of foods high in calcium every day.

  • Calcium is more enjoyable and more easily absorbed from food than from a supplement (pill).

  • You may need a supplement if you do not eat at least 3 servings of foods high in calcium a day.

  • Talk to your health care provider before taking a calcium supplement. It should not be taken with certain medications. Getting too much calcium can cause health problems like constipation and kidney stones.

Take a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU every day, if you are over 50

  • You also need to eat foods that contain vitamin D.

  • Vitamin D is not naturally found in many foods but it is in fatty fish, egg yolk and liver. That's why vitamin D is added to some foods like cow's milk, some orange juice, soy, almond or rice beverages, and margarine.

  • If you don't eat enough good quality sources of vitamin D, you may need a stronger supplement. Talk to your health care provider about it.

Something you can do...

  • Read labels to find good sources of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Add skim milk powder or evaporated milk to your recipes.
  • Try margarine on your toast and in recipes for added vitamin D.
  • Replace a coffee or tea with a latte or hot chocolate for extra calcium and vitamin D. 

Mission Healthy Bones [167 KB]

Mission Healthy Bones!

Calcium and vitamin D are important for strong bones and teeth!

How much do you need?

Age
(years)

Calcium
(mg per day)

Vitamin D
(IU per day)

51 to 70

1200

600

71 and +

1200

800

51 to 70

1000

600

71 and +

1200

800

How do you do this?

  • Try to get at least 3 good sources of calcium and vitamin D rich foods each day.
  • Check the list below for good sources of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Complete your diet by taking a daily 400 IU vitamin D supplement.
  • Talk to your health care provider about supplementation if you think your diet may not be rich enough in calcium and/or vitamin D.

Grain products

  • Usually not a great source of vitamin D. 
  • Cereals eaten with milk or fortified beverage will have extra calcium and 
    vitamin D.
  • A few cereals are now enriched with vitamin D, so check the label.
  • Using margarine with a grain product will increase vitamin D.
Food Item Calcium (mg) Vitamin D (IU)
Some vitamin D fortified cereals - 1 serving with 125 mL (1/2 cup)  1%  milk 160-350 100
Breakfast cereals - 1 serving with 125 mL (1/2 cup)  1% milk 160-350 50
Whole wheat toast - 2 slices 90 0
With margarine - 5 mL (1 tsp) 90 25
With butter - 5 mL (1 tsp) 90 1

Milk and alternatives

  • All cow's milk is fortified with vitamin D and is a natural source of calcium. 
    Some beverages (soy, almond, rice) can be fortified with calcium and vitamin D.  Check the label.
  • Foods made with cow's milk may not be fortified with vitamin D (yogurt, cheese, buttermilk).  Check the label. 
Food Item Calcium (mg) Vitamin D (IU)
Evaporated skim milk-reconstituted - 250 mL (1 cup) 392 116
1% milk (cow)- white or chocolate - 250 mL (1 cup) 320 100
Skim milk powder - 25 g ( 1/3 cup) will make 250 mL (1 cup) of milk 320 100
Eggnog - 250 mL (1 cup) 350 44
Fortified soy, almond or rice beverages - 250 mL (1 cup) 320 90
Yogurt, fortified - 175 mL (¾ cup) 300 80
Cheese - firm (Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda) - 25 g (2.5 oz) 360 3
Kefir - 175 mL (3/4 cup) 187 8

Vegetables and fruit

  • Most vegetables and fruits are not a significant source of calcium and vitamin D unless fortified.
  • A few exceptions are listed below.
Food Item Calcium (mg) Vitamin D (IU)
Fortified orange juice - 125 mL  (½ cup) 155 50
Collards- frozen and cooked - 125 mL (1/2 cup) 189 0
Spinach- frozen and cooked -125 mL (1/2 cup) 154 0

Meat and alternatives

  • The more fatty the fish, the more vitamin D you get. 
  • Canned fish with bones adds extra calcium, as long as you eat the bones! 
Food Item Calcium (mg) Vitamin D (IU)
Salmon - canned with bones - 75 g (2.5 oz) 179 200-699*
Salmon - baked, grilled, pan fried - 75 g (2.5 oz) 5 200-699*
Mackerel - canned - 75 g (2.5 oz) 181 218
Sardines - canned with oil -75 g (2.5 oz) 286 70
Herring pickled - 75 g (2.5 oz) 60 200
Herring - Atlantic, cooked - 75 g (2.5 oz) 56 160
Trout - baked, grilled, pan fried - 75 g (2.5 oz) 41 150
Whitefish, lake - cooked - 75 g (2.5 oz) 12 135
Eggs yolks - 2 44 32
Light tuna - canned tuna - 75 g (2.5 oz) 8 40
Beef liver - pan fried - 75 g (2.5 oz) 4 36
Almonds - 60 mL (¼ cup ) 99 0
Almond butter - 30 mL (2 tbsp) 90 0
Baked beans - canned-185 mL (¾ cup) 64 0

*Amount of vitamin D varies with the type of salmon. Sockeye has the most.

Miscellaneous (mixed ingredients)

  • Adding calcium and vitamin D rich ingredients to your favorite food is a great way to get more of these nutrients! 
Food Item Calcium (mg) Vitamin D (IU)
Fruit smoothie - made with 125 mL (½ cup) of milk,  125 mL fortified orange juice and 125 mL yogurt) 500 140
Grilled cheese sandwich 434 35
Instant breakfast - 250 mL (1 cup) made with milk or fortified beverage 363 90
Café Latte, made with 250 mL (1 cup) milk 320 100
Black coffee or tea 0 0
Salmon salad sandwich 220 150
Prepared canned tomato soup (with milk) - 250 mL (1 cup) 200 50
Pudding made with milk or fortified beverage - 125 mL (1/2 cup) 141 52
Blackstrap molasses - 15 mL (1 tbsp) 180 0
Margarine - 5 mL (1 tsp) 1 25

Reference: Canadian Nutrient File 2010

For more information call 613-580-6744 to speak with our public health staff or e-mail us at healthsante@ottawa.ca

Continue to be active

In addition to your twice weekly strength and balance classes, it is important to engage in aerobic physical activity at least 2.5 hours a week (5 x 30 min).To gain maximum benefit, it is important that you do your home exercises daily.

Adults age 65 and older are encouraged to participate in a variety of physical activities that are enjoyable, safe, and get their bodies moving and hearts pumping.  Regular movement can help older adults age well and maintain independence.

Better Strength, Better Balance Poster

Promote the Better Strength, Better Balance program with a printable poster (PDF)

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