National Lottery-supported Elderfit keeps 90-year-old Mary on top form
Once a week Mary O’Connell does several press ups against a wall, spends time stretching her arms up “pretending to get something from the top shelf” and practises walking (unaided) up and down the length of a room, focusing on her balance.
Whilst this might sound rather unusual, this all helps 90-year-old Mary feel less “‘wibbly-wobbly” as she goes about her daily life.
Not tempted by yoga or Pilates, Mary joined Elderfit – a project supported by National Lottery funding – by chance, as a way of keeping active and to meet and socialise with other people.
Elderfit aims to prevent isolation and specialises in exercise classes for elderly members of the community, particularly focusing on maintaining strength and balance, which slowly decreases as we age due to the loss of strength and joint flexibility.
Additional exercises, including resistance band work and sessions focusing on everyday tasks such as getting in and out of cars, help Mary and other members feel more confident in themselves going out and about, boosting their independence.
Mary’s favourite part about going? “Telling everyone I’ve been to the gym!”
She concedes: “I’m not saying I’m an athlete doing press ups on the ground, but [the class] is doing something with those muscles. From the beginning to the end, you feel like you work out every little bit of you.”
Recently, at a wedding, Mary started to fall down some steps but was able to retain her balance because of – she believes – the anti-stumbling exercises she has practised at Elderfit. “They really saved me from going to the floor”, she said.
Thanks to National Lottery players, over £30Million a week goes to good causes like Elderfit. The organisation is just one of more than 6,000 health and wellbeing projects supported by National Lottery funding last year.
28th September 2021
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