FENLANDER: Older people benefit from new exercise sessions in Wisbech and Whittlesey

Older people are benefiting from an exercise programme designed to help them become more active

A 12-week course of simple, practical exercises is doing a power of good to a group of older people in Wisbech.

It is aimed at improving their strength and balance so that they can lead more active lives and reduce the risk of falls and heart disease.

The sessions are being run by Fenland District Council with support from the British Heart Foundation and the Falls Prevention Service. FDC’s Golden Age team is also involved.

A similar course started at St Mary’s House, Gracious Street, Whittlesey, on Tuesday.

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All the exercises are designed to help people with ordinary everyday activities such as getting out of bed, opening heavy doors or reaching high shelves, as well as walking.

After six sessions members of the Wisbech group are full of praise for the course, which is named the Otago programme after the town in New Zealand where it was developed.

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Ann Crux said: “It has helped me to walk further. Until I started the classes I had to have at least three sit downs on my usual walk. Now, after only a few weeks I only need one. I also had difficulty standing up from sitting and this has greatly improved. Thanks to these classes, my quality of life is much better.“

Barbara Webb agreed. “I suffer from cellulitis and the exercises have been a great help in reducing the fluid in my ankles,” she said. “A lot of people think they don’t need this sort of thing because they think they’re fit enough anyway and it means they’re admitting to old age. But we’ve all learned something and we can carry on doing the exercises at home.”

Councillor Ralph Butcher, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for health and wellbeing, joined in one session last month.

He said: “Everyone agreed the course was really helping them. A lot of older people can’t manage many simple activities and that seriously damages their quality of life. It also puts them in much greater danger of heart disease – everyone needs to give their heart a good workout.

“Being part of a group definitely helps people to exercise properly and it has social benefits, too.”

The course also includes advice on a range of issues affecting older people, including benefits, home security and fire safety.

• For more details, call Charlene Denton, BHF lifestyle coach, at FDC on 01354 654321 or e-mail cdenton@fenland.gov.uk

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