Featured, Stories - February 7, 2024
Exercise class enhancing seniors’ health and wellbeing
Strength and balance classes in Echuca, Lockington and Gunbower are improving the physical and emotional health of the region’s older people.
Intereach Community Support Workers Kay and Fran have been running the classes for more than three years after taking over from Campaspe Shire.
“While the exercises are the most important part, this class offers so much more. It improves social connectedness and mental wellbeing as we and our participants are having fun together, making new friends and catching up for coffee afterwards,” Kay said.
“We have a chat, put on some fantastic music, do warm-ups and stretches and we work hard.
“It's a lovely community vibe and everyone who comes wants to exercise and they get a lot out of it.
“Sometimes they’ll bring things from their garden like fruit and veggies, or books that they’ve read, and sometimes we’ll talk about what was in the paper. It’s more than an exercise class, it’s a bit of everything.”
The classes add to the 101,853 individual aged care services that Intereach delivered in the last financial year, which helped more than 3400 older people across Victoria and NSW be more active and do more of what they love.
Kay said it was rewarding to see improvement in participants.
“From being able to squat down and get up easier, to more flexibility, sleeping better due to being tired after a workout, incontinence improving, higher energy levels so they get more done in their days,” she said.
“We cater for different abilities, for example chair bound, and we adjust each exercise to suit the individual if they are unable to participate in the exact exercise we are doing.”
Participant Maureen has been attending classes for five years and said they kept her active.
“I’m sure it’s keeping me fit and mobile, and I’m able to do things around the house and garden and socialise,” Maureen said.
For Fran, she gets just as much out of it as her participants.
“I really have a lot of faith in our exercises. I really believe they support us and keep us active and healthy,” she said.
There are proven physical and mental health benefits from strength and balance exercises, with health experts recommending it be undertaken regularly.
This type of exercise can increase muscle size and strength, maintain bone density, improve the strength of legs and reduce joint pain. It can also reduce the risk of falls, which can lead to injury.
Kay and Fran explain the correct execution of each movement, emphasising the benefits to the body, and ensuring participants are progressing at their own pace and within their capabilities, all while infusing classes with songs and jokes.
“I really look forward to coming to work and I love all the people,” Fran said.
“It’s my favourite job.”
The strength and balance program targets people who are frail and aged 65 and over, but people under 65 years can also attend.
If you are interested in joining the classes, contact Intereach on 1300 488 226 or visit the website: Intereach –