Senior Dragon Boat paddlers Sue Bray aged 70,  John Gilmour 68, Chris Bellert 64,Karen Giess 56 and Bruce Eckersley 66.
Senior Dragon Boat paddlers Sue Bray aged 70, John Gilmour 68, Chris Bellert 64,Karen Giess 56 and Bruce Eckersley 66. Tracey Johnstone

Is dragon boating the ideal exercise for seniors?

FORGET about your age and book yourself in to experience a full body workout paddling a dragon boat.

Senior paddlers swear it's the ultimate in exercise and fun.

Sue Bray, 70, Chris Bellert, 64, John Gilmour, 68, Karen Giess, 56 and Bruce Eckersley, 66, represent the largest age group participating in dragon boat paddling across the 128 clubs across Australia.

Australian Dragon Boat Federation administration officer, Jo Grant, said there were 5750 registered adults participants, with the 50-plus age group making up over half of that number.

Mr Eckersley has been paddling for about 17 years.

"I came to it as my knees couldn't take touch footy any more. This is a sport where I can get a full body workout and protect the knees a bit," he said.

Mr Gilmour added: "It gets you going with your exercise at least three to four times a week.

"It's a regular thing and you know you are going to be with friends, enjoying yourself and getting fit."

 

Seniors are enjoying training and racing as part of Dragon Boat crews where the ages range from 16 to over 70 years old.
Seniors are enjoying training and racing as part of Dragon Boat crews where the ages range from 16 to over 70 years old. Tracey Johnstone

Most clubs provide paddles, so beginners just need to contact a club and find out where and when a paddling session is being held.

Starting out is easy, as clubs normally have a meet and greet person on hand and a training officer to help with learning the correct way to paddle a dragon boat.

Most beginners start out as social paddlers and then, when they feel fit enough, many join a sports crew.

"The beginners normally go down the back and then drop in and out, while the sports paddlers are doing the hard yards up front," Mr Eckersley said.

For the adrenaline junkies, the competition is fierce.

Teams are drawn from clubs, with members often racing in more than one discipline at an event.

For the very keen, there are state, national and even world championships to aim for.

Ms Bellert said participating was very affordable, as it cost about 55 cents each time you go on the water.

She suffers from severe sea sickness but wouldn't miss a chance to go paddling.

Most of the time crews are paddling on protected water.

Does that make Ms Bellert feel better? "No, I still hate the water," she said happily.

The last word goes to the oldest member of the group, 10-year dragon boating paddling veteran Ms Bray, who is 70.

"I don't have any negatives. The positives are it keeps you young and helps to control your weight."


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