A new series of exercise classes are being launched across Shropshire to help older people maintain their independence and mobility in later life.
The Elevate project is aimed at people aged 65 and above who want to improve their strength and balance, but in a friendly, social setting with time for a cup of tea too!
County sports partnership Energize Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin has been commissioned by Shropshire Council to deliver the project, and has been recruiting and training an experienced network of instructors over the last year.
Christina Morgan, Elevate project officer at Energize, said: “These are specialist exercise classes; they are delivered by a team of experts who have been trained in ‘postural stability’ which is evidenced to improve strength and stability in older people.
Although people can refer themselves directly, we know that a referral or encouragement from a trusted source, be it a family member, friend or professional, can really help to motivate someone to attend.
It can be intimidating to start anything new, so we’re really keen to work with local partners and residents to share the project and help us to reach the people who would benefit the most from getting involved.
The classes run over a 20-week period, after which we will be seeking to signpost participants to other local opportunities, so that people can enjoy staying active.”
She added: “Many people are active in later life, and walking is a popular activity in Shropshire, but strength and balance exercise is also an important ingredient in helping us to age well. Ageing can often increase individual health needs and we are here to support people into activity where they face additional challenges.
Taking part in these classes has been shown to boost people’s confidence, both in and out of the home.
Figures show that, nationally, four out of 10 people aged 70 and above are unaware of the importance of good strength and balance to reduce the risk of falls in later life.
Only 16% meet the recommended levels of aerobic and muscle strengthening – and that figure falls to just 7% for over 75s.
For those interested in improving strength and stability, further information, a video and referral criteria can be found on the website. Whilst the project is subsidised by Shropshire Council to £3 per class, residents outside of that area can still enquire to attend.
The classes will be primarily based in market towns. The first sessions are already programmed for Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Ludlow, Whitchurch, Bishop’s Castle and Craven Arms. Those interested can either self-refer, or they can be referred by a friend or health professional, and then the Elevate team will invite them to their next available class,
The project is supported by many county organisations, including Age UK and Shropshire Rural Communities Charity, as well as GPs and health professionals.
Councillor Lee Chapman, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Health and Housing added;
“We are delighted that Energize have been awarded the contract to deliver the Elevate Project, which could really help older people who want to improve their balance, flexibility and confidence.
“These classes will provide a great opportunity for older people to remain active and maintain independence, whilst at the same time make new friends.”