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exercise & ageing

Expresso bikes were used during Knowsley Borough

Council’s well attended Older People’s Fun O’lympics

Meanwhile, many local authorities

are actively seeking their own solutions to encourage older residents to keep fi t. Westminster Council recently announced that it will build a seniors’ playground in Hyde Park – a free-to-use, £40,000 outdoor facility offering six pieces of equipment specifi cally selected to provide gentle and accessible exercise opportunities for the over-60s. Knowsley Borough Council,

meanwhile, is gearing up for its third Older People’s Fun O’lympics. More than 160 over-50s took part in the 2009 games, attending weekly training sessions throughout the year – using ZigZag’s dance mats, Sportwalls and interactive Expresso bikes, as well as playing badminton, bowls, table tennis and even welly-throwing – to build up their fi tness levels for the one-day event.

meeting needs

In addition to the barriers of intimidation and cost, some older people may simply not be able to travel to a gym. With this in mind, Technogym is looking at how its equipment can be used in locations outside of traditional fitness settings. It has turned its attention to care and dementia homes, with a focus on providing equipment that can be used by people with reduced physical capacity (see Talkback, HCM Feb 10, p28). Redholme Memory Care home in

Liverpool installed the Easyline range – Technogym’s nine-station hydraulic circuit – 18 months ago. The equipment is generally used in half-hour sessions, twice a week. Since its introduction, falls are down 20 per cent and there have been no broken bones during the past 12 months. Home owner Anne McCann comments:

“The Easyline range has proved invaluable. If residents are restless, a walk to the gym area and a session using the

equipment helps relieve that agitation, with the result that residents are often more compliant with interventions.” Meanwhile, balance exercises are

increasingly prescribed for older people as part of GP referral schemes and hospital rehabilitation programmes following falls or accidents, after a stroke, or with conditions such as Parkinson’s and MS. The BalanceMaster machine, for example, provides a safe, effective and progressive means of challenging balance; clinical trials have shown increased lower limb strength, power, balance and balance confi dence following regular usage by older people. Keiser is so committed to serving

the older adult population it has developed the Keiser Institute on Ageing to promote the dissemination of information on exercise and ageing (see HCM March 08, p34). Keiser’s mission is to teach older adults how proper exercise can slow their ageing process and improve their quality of life as they get older (see also HCM July 09, p42). Furthermore, with its pneumatic

equipment, Keiser has pioneered the use of compressed air to provide resistance. This is an effective way

Increasing active lifestyles is

a simple answer to an ageing society

and sustainable public spending

44 Read Health Club Management online

to increase strength and power and improve stability and mobility, as it uses air pressure to provide a consistent, controllable resistance, preventing shock loading to connective tissues and joints. It also allows users to train at an appropriate speed for their requirements; older individuals need to be able to adapt quickly to slips, trips and falls, and this technology allows the user to gain knowledge of where their body is in space and how they can quickly adjust it to achieve a safe and balanced position to avoid a fall.

everything to gain

Huge steps have been made to take active ageing from concept to reality, but the last word must go to Andy Burnham MP, secretary of state for health, who recently commented:

“Increasing active lifestyles is a simple answer to many of the challenges facing our country today: rising obesity, ageing society and sustainable public spending.” There’s clearly work to be done

if we’re to bring about a true sea change in exercise habits among the older population. However, given the obvious benefi ts to the individual, state and society, as well as to the fi tness industry’s bottom line, there’s little to lose and everything to gain in doing everything we can to encourage greater levels of physical activity among this segment of the population.

susie srivastava

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