Community exercise activates older citizens

A free specialised weekly exercise group held in Yinnar to help mobilise elderly citizens to keep them active and connected to participating in their community has been a resounding success. 

“I saw a need as I think older people appear to look ok, but we can have many ailments behind the scenes. Travel is hard to organise and specialised exercise can be expensive,” says Glenys Webster, who was the initial driver behind the classes and is a regular participant in the class.  

Twenty-five per cent of the population of Yinnar is aged over 60 with the health and wellness classes being held for free to all participants at Yinnar & District Memorial Hall every Wednesday morning.  Kathleen Millet who is Exercise Specialist Level 3 facilitates the free classes for up to 30 participants.  

 Clients have multiple health issues ranging from the recovery from back surgery, stroke recovery, balance issues and poor function of their knees and hips. Currently the oldest participant is 98 years old!  

It’s reported that some of the clients have improved from entering on the first session on crutches and taking falls regularly to standing taller, straighter as well as moving with more confidence.  

Glenys says that whether participants are sitting and recovering from injury or up and about, Kathleen is aware of everyone’s needs and caters to them all.  

“Our specialised therapist Kathleen teaches us about our body and how we should be moving, she has to consider all our different needs. We are a very happy group of positive people from all backgrounds,” continued Glenys. 

“In the first 12 months, with funding from FRRR, 47 classes were held, with an average of 17 participants, which is over 800 places. It proved to me that there was a huge need for a program like this in our area.” 

The program has been extended until the end of 2020, with Federation University now also conducting an in-depth evaluation, exploring the idea of how these classes could be rolled out in other rural areas.  

Through these classes and by being supported to remain active in their twilight years, it is hoped participants will have a stronger involvement in other community initiatives including taking up volunteer roles or attending local events.