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Their stellar achievement was acknowledged at an event at the service recently.
Margaret Taylor, Hazel Stevens, and Alex Suto are redefining what it means to be ‘gym junkies’ and proving that age and physical ability are no barrier to ‘pumping iron’ and enjoying exercise.
The three seniors use the specialised exercise equipment at the Mitchelton aged care service, which has been specifically designed for older people, with added padding and the ability to increase weight and resistance in much smaller increments.
For Margaret Taylor, 77, going to the gym is more than just about increasing her fitness.
“The thing I like best about going to the gym is the social aspect. I get to speak with people I never would have spoken to before. I get to see people from different areas of the service and socialise,” Margaret said.
But, she is also seeing the physical benefits of regular exercise.
“I feel much better, the gym is also good because I get to do other exercises. At the moment, because I have a leg injury, I have can choose other exercises. I like yoga, Tai Chi and dancing as well.
There is an exercise called ‘kick and flick’ and that is a social exercise,” she said.
Using current state-of-the-art exercise equipment, Margaret Taylor is excited to see what the future has in store.
“I have heard about new [exercise] equipment being invented in the next 25 years, I’m going to wait for that,” she said.
Of course, the reason many of us go to the gym is to lose weight. Hazel Stevens, 85, has been enjoying the results she is seeing from her regular gym sessions.
“I feel great after the gym. The dress I am wearing today, I haven’t worn this dress in 17 years! This is the first time,” Hazel said.
“When I started at the gym, I was overweight. I started at the gym and lost weight…after joining the gym I feel marvellous. The interaction with different people is lovely.”
In just six months, Alex Suto, 76, has lifted, pushed and pulled a total of 253,589 kg on the equipment, averaging 2,131kg each session.
In consultation with a physiotherapist, users—such as Margaret, Hazel and Alex—are issued a swipe card with their personalised exercise program. That card then slots into any machine, automatically setting the weight and number of repetitions they can safely lift. It also keeps a record of their regime and progress meaning an accurate review of results. Each individual program takes about 20 minutes to complete, which has shown to be enough time to have significant benefits for users.
The innovative exercise program has been implemented by Allied Health Team Leader Craig Wilson across three Churches of Christ Care aged care services.
“Since the gyms started at our Alexandra Hills service 12 to 18 months ago, there has been a fitness explosion across our services. There are three new gyms we have opened, with 11 physiotherapists working with our residents,” Craig said.
Churches of Christ Care intends to extend the innovative gym program, based on the Helsinki University Research exercise program, to other services. With 25 years of scientific research, the exercise program and equipment is recognised as a safe way for older people to exercise and improve strength and functional ability.
Director of Seniors and Supported Living Bryan Mason said that thanks to a generous donation of $60,000, four new pieces of equipment will be purchased for the Moonah Park Aged Care Service gym.
“The program aligns with Positive Wellbeing Model of Care, which promotes meaningful aging. Research has shown that exercise can help prevent falls while also improving pain, functional ability and balance, and can enhance emotional and physical wellbeing,” Bryan said.