FIT: Beth Hume, Margaret-Anne Watkin, Doreen Wilson , Barry Staier, Katie Stewart .
FIT: Beth Hume, Margaret-Anne Watkin, Doreen Wilson , Barry Staier, Katie Stewart .

Join 86-year-old Doreen Wilson to become fit for life

EMBRACING the "healthy body, healthy mind” philosophy espoused by the Australian Brain Foundation, Gymnastics Queensland celebrated Brain Awareness Week with a "Fitter for Life” class in King George Square during March.

Developed specifically for the 8.3 million* Australians over the age of 50, Fitter for Life is a "gymnastics for all” program that aims to help improve mobility, strength and co-ordination.

Having already benefited more than 400 Australians since 2017, 86-year-old Fitter for Life instructor and ambassador Doreen Wilson says the program is a fun and easy way to maintain physical and mental fitness.

"Research shows that an active body helps lead to a healthy mind, so programs like Fitter for Life can really make a difference to an older person's quality of life and independence,” Ms Wilson said.

"Human beings are integrated creatures so it's important that we meet our mental, social and physical needs, no matter what age we are.

"Fitter for Life classes include activities to stimulate the brain and create new neural pathways that may never have been used before.”

Ms Wilson teaches five classes a week and has seen the real benefits exercise can have for participants, particularly in maintaining their independence for as long as they can.

"Simple things like being able to get in and out of bed or up and down from a chair means that people can stay in their own home longer,” she said.

"I must stress that we're not talking cartwheels, vaults and trampolines. Fitter for Life is created to suit the needs of those over the age of 50 and can be adapted to meet the physical needs of all participants.”

The Department of Health's Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Australians (65 years and older)** recommends that older Australians should accumulate at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, doing a range of physical activities that incorporate fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.

Gymnastics Queensland chief executive Kym Dowdell said Fitter for Life helped over-50s achieve these physical activity goals as well as improving their mobility in other sports and daily activities and providing a local and social outing.

"As we get older, the physical abilities we take for granted when we're young can become more and more challenging, so Fitter for Life classes aim to keep people active and functioning as well as they can,” Ms Dowdell said.

"The program is designed to build specific muscle strength to stay mobile and to keep doing the things we do daily - like tying our shoelaces, hanging out the washing and walking up and down stairs.

"It's not a daunting program, we don't use specific machines or equipment and it can be tailored to any level of physical ability - so it really is gymnastics for all.

"We encourage anyone who might be interested in the program or who might be thinking of a parent or friend who could benefit from the activities to visit the website.”

Ms Wilson is a shining example of the benefits of the Fitter for Life program and is passionate about encouraging others to get involved.

"Every day is a reward for me teaching Fitter for Life,” she said.

"Seeing people getting up and getting active, being able to have fun and enjoy some great social interaction is what it's all about.

"I just love to help make people's lives better.”

Details on Fitter for Life and the participating gymnastics clubs, please go to, fitterforlife.org.au.


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