Skip to main content

News and Media

Open Main MenuClose Main Menu
Stay Strong, Stay Healthy participants show off bicep curls

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy: New Extension initiative explores the benefit of group fitness

Friday, June 23, 2023

Media Contact: Kirsi McDowell | Senior Communications Specialist | 405-744-9347 |

Oklahoma State University’s new Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program is being presented on-campus for the first time this summer at the Seretean Wellness Center.

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy (SSSH) is an eight-week exercise program that is based on extensive scientific evidence. Research findings show that SSSH participants improved their strength, flexibility, balance and experienced enhanced sleep quality. For older as well as less active, middle-aged adults, results included reduced fall risk and increased independence. 

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy is a national program model originally developed by Dr. Steve Ball of the University of Missouri in 2005. 

Dr. Bree Baker — assistant professor and MAAX Lab director in the School of Kinesiology, Applied Health and Recreation — knows the ins and outs of SSSH from her time as a postdoctoral researcher alongside Ball and maintains a close working relationship as the program launches. 

“We were watching the program work firsthand, but we didn’t have the research to back it at the time,” said Baker. “We had to sit down and ask the questions: Does it work? How much does it work? Does it work for a wide range of individuals?”

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy saw real growth as it became an extension program rather than being solely lab based. This allowed for the program to be disseminated across many counties, reaching nearly 15,000 individuals across the U.S. Now, utilizing extension agency networks is the standard for the program.

The individuals who participated in the study were not regularly active at the time the program began. After eight weeks attending classes and practicing a variety of movements, participants found themselves to be stronger and more capable than they thought. 

“We saw unexpected results beyond the findings we had hoped for,” said Baker. 

When the first group of participants were contacted one year after their program had ended, many were still resistance training and noted a boost in their confidence, encouraging them to try new activities. 

“Not many doctors prescribe weight lifting as a way to reduce fall risk,” said Baker. “The reality is that we have research that proves the efficacy of weight training for improved balance and mobility. This program model will positively impact Oklahomans’ lives.”“It’s absolutely not necessary to be in shape or regularly active to join the program.” 

“We are trying to break down barriers to accessibility and educate folks on the benefits of strength training, safely and independently, that can be carried on even after the 8-week session to sustain activity,” she added.

The current session at OSU is progressive in activity and training level. For the first two weeks of the program, participants may not even utilize weights but will instead focus on education of proper form and movements before working their way to resistance training. Also included in the curriculum are nutritional facts and strategies. 

Baker and her team are working diligently to bring this program to extension agencies throughout the state, with the goal of Stay Strong, Stay Healthy having a presence in all 77 counties. 

There are no requirements to enroll in the program and walkers and wheelchairs are welcome. Visit the Department of Wellness website to stay up to date on upcoming sessions.

For more information about the program or to become certified as an instructor for future sessions, contact Dr. Bree Baker at

Back To Top
SVG directory not found.