Strength For Life Sm

COTA Strength for Life – Classes at St Louis Aged Care

Aida is an approved COTA Strength for Life Fitness Instructor and runs sessions at St Louis twice a week. 

In this interview with Aida, she talks about why exercise is important as we age and the increased health and wellbeing that her clients experience with a little bit of strength and flexibility training incorporated into their daily routine.

What happens to us if we do not maintain some fitness as we age?

“Exercise is not just about physical health, it is also about mental and emotional health. Your muscle mass will reduce as you age and you get weaker. When you don’t use your muscles, you are also not using your bones and joints very much, this leads to less fluid in the joints, less bone density, and then the result is a loss of balance.

What happens when a person loses their balance is that they also lose their confidence to get out and about on their own. So ultimately, the psychological impact of not doing exercise to maintain strength starts to impact their life – emotionally and socially.

I think people underestimate the emotional and mental impact of not doing exercise. Being physically weaker at an elderly age goes hand in hand with becoming emotionally and mentally dependant, we want to make sure this does not happen.

As people age, there are still lots of things to do every day, such as:

  • Carrying the shopping
  • Doing the gardening
  • Walking the dog
  • Doing general house chores
  • Stretching to the top of pantry

The exercise classes that I hold focus on keeping elderly people active at home and in their community so that every day they can manage their chores and routines easily.”

What are the three most important aspects of fitness for elderly people?

Strength – to build up the muscles and keep them conditioned so that you can carry bags, extend your arms, bend down to feed the cat/dog, open the jar, and other everyday things.

Cardio – lots of walking is excellent, you can start slow and then become more brisk as it goes. Walking in the park is the best thing to do because it opens your lungs and brings more oxygen into your body to pump blood and increase circulation.

Balance – people lose their balance as they age and it is very important to prevent falls. For example, when elderly people are in a shopping mall and a little kid runs past very quickly and bumps them, they are easily shocked and can fall because their sense of balance has reduced.

Maintaining physical balance can be achieved through the strength and flexibility training we do in Strength for Life classes and then some extra exercise at home.”

How much exercise is enough for people over 65?

“It varies for people but in general it is 3 days per week for strength training for up to an hour. Then a brisk walk around the neighbourhood 3-4 days a week is enough. Do one form of exercise every day, you can start walking to the local shops to buy your magazine or newspaper and this is a good way to incorporate it into your normal routine.

Exercise is up to the individual and if you can do team sport even better. For those who are not doing much it is really important to get up and move.

Some of my clients, myself included, will do 15 mins of high intensity strength training every day that is non-stop and that is plenty.”

What are the benefits of exercising regularly?

“There are many benefits and they are not just physical ones. For example I have seen my clients change for the better in the following ways:

  • Their confidence increases
  • They become more social
  • They feel safer as they have reduced their risk of falling and injury
  • They are generally happier

The physical, emotional and mental aspects of exercise are all as important as one another.”

What is Strength for Life about and how do you work with this program?

“The Strength for Life program is about socialising to meet new people as well as keeping fit and well. The group will meet and have a coffee and chat afterwards, and socialise, they all look forward to it.

At the end of the year I organise a Christmas lunch for the group and we all enjoy this catch up. Last year we went to Feathers Hotel, this year we are still deciding!”

Book into Strength for Life classes at St Louis Aged Care

Aida Fitness runs Strength for Life classes four times per week at St Louis, 11 Dudley Street, Marryatville, 9-10am and 10.15-11.15am on Tuesday and Thursday. Anyone over 50 can join in. Please call us on 8332 0950 for more information or to book a class.