Older generations muscle in on 2017 fitness resolutions

Media Release 30th January 2017

No one can tell 70-year-old Ron Deguet and his wife Shirley they are too old to hit the gym. Ron is more fit now than ever before, exercising 8 times per week, including strength training and walking  the dog.

A few years ago Ron was at risk of not being able to walk due to a trapped vertebrae in his back. Prior to then he lived a fairly inactive lifestyle, battling cerebral palsy. However, life took a turn for the better when Ron's back pain disappeared thanks to physiotherapy. He then joined a local  Strength for Life program in September 2015, which gave him the motivation to keep active. Since then it has helped improve his quality of life and health, losing 15kg in the past 6 months, lowering his cholesterol and reducing his medication intake.

Ron is one of thousands of older South Australians who are pledging to prioritise their fitness in 2017. Their first port of call is often Strength for Life, a fitness program developed by COTA SA, which has grown significantly over the past five years as people look to improve their quality of life in their later years.

COTA SA Chief Executive, Jane Mussared predicts more older people will pledge to ‘get fit' as part of their 2017 New Year's resolution.

"Strength for Life has grown significantly over the past five years with a 35 per cent increase in participants and an additional 30 centres opened to meet growing demand," Ms Mussared said.

"February is typically the most popular time at our Strength for Life centres and we expect 2017 to be one of our busiest years yet.

"Thanks to increased public awareness surrounding the benefits of exercise later in life, as well as the availability of programs like Strength for Life that were designed specifically for the growing  number of older people, we are seeing more people embrace the opportunity to get fit.

Ms Mussared said exercise tends to become less of a priority as people enter their 30s, probably because of family and career demands.

"However what we are seeing is an opportunity for people to get back into exercise in their 50s, 60s and 70s. They often have more time to prioritise exercise and they understand its importance to  their ongoing health.

"The good news is that in recent times there's been a trend with more people making the most of this opportunity, and this has been particularly evident through the demand experienced for our  Strength for Life program," Ms Mussared said.

"We've gone from 60 centres to 90 in the past five years with more than 3,000 attendees per week from all age groups taking a renewed interest in building their strength and fitness."

Ms Mussared said the benefits of regular exercise among older people are well known and  sometimes it's just a case of helping people to overcome small barriers.

"Exercise and strength building has positive outcomes for all generations. Exercise is associated with preventing future health issues, as well as ongoing lifestyle benefits including social interaction, staying connected with the community and improving mental wellbeing," Ms Mussared said.

"The most common barriers that prevent older people from exercising relate to a lack of awareness, not knowing where to start or a lack of confidence. This could be from bad experiences in the past, not knowing what strength training is or what programs are available, or a misconception that they  have to get fit before they can start the program.

"The great thing about Strength for Life is it is specifically for older people and it's a progressive program that aims to help people build strength over time with professional supervision, a commitment to best practice and safe, tailored regimes," she said.

Running for the past 12 years, Strength for Life is an accredited program developed by COTA SA and run by various fitness providers throughout South Australia. To access the program, people can contact COTA SA and ask for our accredited provider list or download it from our COTA SA website. Then it is simply a matter of filling out an enrolmentform and undertaking a pre-activity assessment.

For more information, go to https://www.cotasa.org.au/Program/life/Strength_for_Life_Factsheet.aspx

COTA SA is the peak body representing the rights, needs and interests of older South Australians, with 17,000 individual members and 250 organisation members.

Further media information contact:
Amber Fromm - amber@communikate.net.au | 0400 324 220
Bec Tape - rtape@communikate.net.au | 0438 806 983

Download a copy of the media release (pdf)