Staying well balanced in retirement
09 February 2012
New exercise classes to keep older people sure-footed and safe will be starting this spring.
The postural stability courses, to be held at venues throughout
south-eastEssex, are designed to instil balance, strength,
confidence and enjoyment into older people and prevent them ending
up in hospital after a fall.
Behind the classes are Southend University Hospital qualified
physiotherapist and falls practitioner, Kate Chapman, and falls
lead nurse Chrissie Newson, who are both passionate about their
role. They have successfully tendered to run the 36-week pilot
course, which is based on the pioneering work of the well-respected
Later Life Training.
Kate said: "These classes are proven to be effective in
restoring balance, strength and overall fitness. As well as
reducing the risk of participants hurting themselves in a fall,
they are also fun and sociable."
Chrissie added: "We are really excited about starting these
classes as we know how effective they can be in giving more
confidence to people who have had a number of falls and reducing
their chances of further accidents."
Over the weeks, the exercises are tailored to match the
increasing fitness and confidence of those taking part.
Kate said: "We start very gently with chair-based stretching and
'huff and puff' exercises and move on to standing exercises and
perhaps some circuit work as the class gets fitter. But there are
always alternatives if participants find they struggle with any
particular part of the course."
The classes differ from other keep fit and active lifestyle
courses in that they are tailored specifically to improve balance
and so reduce the risk of people falling and needing hospital care.
They also help improve bone strength and ward off the risk of
Backed by Dr John Whitear, the hospital's associate specialist
in elderly care, Kate and Chrissie are now recruiting to the
classes and would like to hear from anyone who thinks they could
Eligibility criteria are that would-be participants:
- Must be over 65 years old
- Are living independently (ie not in a care/residential
- Have had three falls in the past year
- Are prepared to commit themselves to a weekly class for 36
Kate said: "Naturally, we will understand if participants miss a
class because they are ill or go on holiday for a week. But it is
important that those who attend the course are prepared to keep at
it. This is a trial and its success depends on real
All those interested will be seen by Kate or Chrissie to ensure
there is no underlying medical reason for their falls and that they
meet the other criteria.
If you think you would benefit from attending the active ageing
classes, please call 01702 435555, ext 6161.