Many older residents tend to shy away from gyms because they find them too intimidating and fear they’ll never learn how to use the equipment properly.
This has certainly been the case in Mukinbudin, according to Community Development Officer, Nola Comerford-Smith, who says that a lack of exercise programs tailored specifically for the shire’s older adults might be what has previously been keeping them away.
However the recent introduction of weight training for older adults and a ‘Boot camp’ including ability-targeted aerobic exercise and Tai Chi to increase mobility is changing all that according to Ms Comerford-Smith, who said she is thrilled to see how many locals have registered to take part.
The program is being funded in Mukinbudin as part of the new Stay On Your Feet® Strengthen Your Legs Campaign delivered on behalf of the WA Department of Health, which focuses on building muscle strength as a way of preventing slips trips and falls.
“The Strengthen Your Legs program is really becoming popular with our older residents and the numbers are growing week on week,” she said.
“With classes like these, especially tailored to our senior citizens, participants are able to attend a group class with a trained personal instructor who will give them support and encouragement as they progress.
“Each week they get more comfortable and familiar with their surroundings and what they are doing, which is really helping to make exercise a regular part of their life.”
Ms Comerford-Smith said they recently had eleven older residents take part in the classes with word rapidly spreading across the community.
“We had one participant who was 84-years-old, who said that before she started the gym classes with us, she couldn’t even use her arms to push herself out of bed.
“Since doing the weight training she is regaining that strength and able to do the daily tasks that help make her independent which is just so thrilling to hear,” she added.
One in three people in Australia aged over the age of 65 will fall each year, some resulting in serious injury and hospitalisation that will see them unable to return to living independently in the community, according to the Injury Control Council of WA (ICCWA), which delivers Stay On Your Feet® in Western Australia
However, what many don’t realise is that falls are easily preventable according to ICCWA Injury Prevention Manager Rachel Meade.
“Many older Australians believe that muscle weakening is just an inevitable part of the ageing process,” Ms Meade said.
“It’s possible to maintain and even increase muscle strength by participating in regular resistance based exercise classes, such as those currently running in Mukinbudin.”
The Shire of Mukinbudin has an ageing population drawn to the area by its affordability and slower pace however it is not regularly serviced by doctors, physiotherapists or other health professionals.
“These proactive, self-manageable exercise programs will be of enormous benefit in terms of keeping our seniors healthy, informed and strong and safe.” Ms Comerford-Smith said.