AQUA FUN: Work out without putting weight on problem areas such as knees and hips.
AQUA FUN: Work out without putting weight on problem areas such as knees and hips.

Don't fall for the easy way out; move to stay upright

EVERY year one in three people over 65 has a fall.

Whether that is you, and what impact that fall has depends in large part on your balance, strength and fitness. It's something Central Coast fitness instructor of 16 years Sandra Prichard has seen first-hand.

"I've seen people who have decided exercise class is just too much effort, or not for them and then, some time or some years later, I see them all stooped over, or with a frame, and I think that's so sad, because it could have been prevented," Sandra said.

The theme for April Falls Day this April 3 is 'moving right to stay upright', and Sandra is 100% behind the message.

"It's a matter of changing the way you think and being aware of your posture and how you walk. It doesn't matter how old you are, you need to keep up your strength and fitness," she said.

A fall can lead to loss of independence or changes in lifestyle, limiting everyday and social activities. Simple, gentle exercise can help you avoid falling, or aid your recovery if you do fall.

Now in the 'seniors' demographic herself at 55, Sandra runs Aqua 50+ and Active 50+ gentle exercise classes from Woy Woy to Kincumber, with participants ranging in age from 50 to 93.

"I try to make my classes fun. Sometimes people come along reluctantly at first and they don't know what to expect, but after a couple of classes they actually feel better and really start to enjoy it.

"I've got people who've been coming for 10-16 years."

Some classes end with a stop at the coffee shop afterwards, and Sandra said that was a real hit for many.

"For some people it's actually the social enjoyment of the classes, and the exercise is just an added extra," she laughed.

And sometimes older participants can give the younger ones a jolt.

"I had one man who was 93 and he was better than some of the 60-year-olds. It gave them real motivation to pick themselves up a bit," she said.

Aqua classes are particularly good for those with knee or hip issues, allowing them to exercise without putting weight on the affected area, while still working on balance and resistance.

Co-ordination, strengthening and balance are the keys to Sandra's land-based exercises.

"It's an all-round exercise for the muscles, bones and brain as it helps to stave off dementia as well," she said.

"Balance is so important. If you don't use it, you lose it, and if you don't have your balance you keep falling, which is just a dreadful cycle."

Sandra is offering a free trial class for any first-timers from April 3-7. Call her on 0407940869 or go to www.activeandhealthy.nsw.gov.au for an activity near you.


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