Five Essentials Provide Framework for Fitness at BTV

Butterfield’s fitness and wellness team has developed a new set of fitness practices residents can integrate into their routines to reduce the risk of falls and gain physical strength and confidence.

BTV Fitness & Wellness Director Jennifer Neill and intern Sarah Eaton created the Five Essentials – five principles of movement they have integrated into BTV exercise programs to help residents lead strong, healthy lives. 

“The Five Essentials are practicable through movement and exercise,” Neill said. “When applied consistently these actions can help reduce pain and swelling, increase strength and improve balance – all of which work to prevent the risk of falls.” Fall prevention is a key focus at BTV, with bi-weekly classes, testing and monitoring available for residents. 

Neill and Eaton have made the Five Essentials part of a number of exercise classes and programs, such as resistance training, yoga, strength and chair aerobics, as well as the popular group hiking program. Each essential can be mastered through a variety of movements and exercises (see suggestions below). 

“Our goal is to incorporate the Five Essentials into every class we offer at Butterfield,” Neill said. “The essentials serve as the language for how we teach and organize each class. They allow every class to have a similar format, but with a different emphasis.”

Five Essentials


What to Do: Get aligned in movement and exercise. Align your posture and joints to decrease wear and tear on your body.

Benefit: Better posture and form. Safer, more efficient movement and exercise.

Exercise: Make sure your feet are facing forward. Place your hand on the crown of your head and think about lifting up towards your hand. Place your hand on your low abs and pull them in so they are engaged.



What to Do: Become aware of the position and movement of your body. Use your breath to relax. 

Benefit: Improved movement and stability. 

Exercise: Balance on one leg. Bend the knee of your opposite leg so it remains off of the floor. Hold for one minute, resting 10-20 seconds between repetitions. Do 3-4 times on each side.



What to Do: Perform weight or resistance training to strengthen bones and slow muscle loss. 

Benefit: Improved efficiency, safeguard 

against injury.

Exercise: Using an exercise band, begin in a seated position in a chair with one leg straight out in front of you. Hold the band handles and place the center of the band around your foot, then wrap around one more time to make a loop around your foot. Sit tall with abs tight and hold handles in front of you with elbows bent next to your side. Pull the handles back until they are next to your side and elbows are behind you. Slowly release. Repeat with your other leg.



What to Do: Add power movements, such as leg switches, jumping rope or even dancing –moving your body quickly and in opposing directions. 

Benefit: Improved reflexes, better coordination. Ability to move faster and with agility. 

Exercise: To do leg switches, hold onto rail for support if needed. Extend one leg out and balance on one foot. With a small hop, switch feet so that you are balancing on your other foot. Switch between legs for 10 seconds.



What to Do: Practice deep breathing like the 4-8-7 breathing technique and balancing while still.

Benefit: Lower stress, heart rate and blood pressure.

Exercise: Using the 4-8-7 breathing technique, close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Then, hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight. Inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breath cycles. This can even help you fall asleep.

Residents may practice the Five Essentials at indoor and outdoor exercise stations set up around campus for residents’ convenience. “We’ve placed signs in the hallways inside, as well as the exercise stations on the outdoor circuit,” Eaton said. “These are meant to help residents practice the Five Essentials so they can make them a daily habit.”

“We are hoping the essentials become second nature as the research is very promising for each one,” Neill said. “We want to ensure that if a resident takes one of our classes or exercises on the circuit, they’ll perform the Five Essentials.”