Mar 13

Fitter for Life celebrates healthy body, healthy mind

Embracing the healthy body, healthy mind philosophy espoused by the Australian Brain Foundation, Gymnastics Queensland will celebrate Brain Awareness Week with a Fitter for Life class in King George Square on Wednesday 13 March.

Developed specifically for the 8.3 million Australians over the age of 50, Fitter for Life is a ‘Gymnastics for All’ program that aims to help improve mobility, strength and coordination.

Having already benefited more than 400 Australians since 2017, 86-year-old Fitter for Life instructor and ambassador Doreen Wilson says the program is a fun and easy way to maintain physical and mental fitness.

“Research shows that an active body helps lead to a healthy mind so programs like Fitter for Life can really make a difference to an older person’s quality of life and independence,” Ms Wilson said.

“Human beings are integrated creatures so it’s important that we meet our mental, social and physical needs, no matter what age we are.

Fitter for Life classes include activities to stimulate the brain and create new neural pathways that may never have been used before.

“I teach five classes each week and have seen the very real benefits exercise can have for participants, particularly in maintaining their independence for as long as they can.

“Simple things like being able to get in and out of bed or up and down from a chair means that people can stay in their own home longer.”

“I must stress that we’re not talking cartwheels, vaults and trampolines. Fitter for Life is created to suit the needs of those over the age of 50 and can be adapted to meet the physical needs of all participants.”

The Department of Health’s Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Australians (65 years and older) recommends that older Australians should accumulate at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.

Gymnastics Queensland CEO Kym Dowdell says Fitter for Life helps over 50s achieve these physical activity goals as well as improving their mobility in other sports and daily activities and providing a local and social outing.

“As we get older, the physical abilities we take for granted when we’re young can become more and more challenging so Fitter for Life classes aim to keep people active and functioning as well as they can,” Ms Dowdell said.

“The program is designed to build specific muscle strength to stay mobile and to keep doing the things we do daily – like tying our shoelaces, hanging out the washing and walking up and down stairs.

“It’s not a daunting program, we don’t use specific machines or equipment and it can be tailored to any level of physical ability – so it really is gymnastics for all!

“Four clubs will be holding ‘come and try’ days from 12 to 15 March but we have 10 gymnastics clubs across Queensland that offer the Fitter for Life program.

“We encourage anyone who might be interested in the program, or who might be thinking of a parent or friend who could benefit from the activities, to visit the website and contact their closest club.”

Ms Wilson is a shining example of the benefits of the Fitter for Life program and is passionate about encouraging others to get involved.

“Every day is a reward for me teaching Fitter for Life. Seeing people getting up and getting active, being able to have fun and enjoy some great social interaction is what it’s all about.

“I just love to help make people’s lives better.”

For further details on Fitter for Life and the participating gymnastics clubs, please visit www.fitterforlife.org.au.

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