Laughs, laps and exercises

The Holyrood Community Centre filled with laughter last Thursday afternoon as a group of seniors participated in a showcase of the Town’s Active for Life program.

The Town of Holyrood sponsors the physical activity and fall prevention program. Jenny Temple, a yoga instructor hired by the Town, leads the group of approximately 25 seniors on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in balance, co-ordination and strength exercises aimed at improving the quality of life for the community’s senior residents.

“If I see anybody fall they’ve got to do 10 push-ups against the wall,” Temple shouts to the group while leading a balancing activity.

Temple is joking, of course, but participants take the threat seriously enough, straightening their posture as they balance on one foot.

And while the program is challenging, Temple notes it can be modified for anyone of any physical ability. Program participant Elizabeth Mayo is visually impaired but said she has no issues participating in any aspect of the exercise.

“I don’t find it difficult,” said Mayo. “(Temple) caters the program to us.”

“There (are) very few barriers to participating,” agreed Temple.

Active for Life participant Mary Fewer said her doctor had suggested she have a knee replacement before she joined the program. Since she started participating in Active for Life, Lewis said she notices a significant difference in her physical ability and the pain in her knees.

“I don’t have any trouble now,” said Fewer.

Temple said that once people join Active for Life they usually stick with the program, explaining that the drop-out rate is low. Considering the amount of laughter from the participants it isn’t difficult to see why. While the program aims to improve the physical ability of seniors it also offers a chance to socialize.

“The social aspect of it is huge,” said Holyrood Councillor Kim Ghaney, a nurse who took time to see the program in action. Ghaney said the Town is looking to implement the Active for Life program at personal care homes in Holyrood, with Temple noting it is already available at Woodford’s Comfort Manor.

Through the program the Town of Holyrood is aiming to lead the way in preventative healthcare for seniors. The program started as a pilot project in the town through a partnership with Recreation Newfoundland and Labrador and Memorial University. The Town sponsors the classes, making Active for Life accessible for everyone in Holyrood and the surrounding community for a $2 drop-in fee. Active for Life is part of the Town’s Forever Young Older Adults programming, which also offers busing to the Conception Bay South Arena for a walking program.

Group members noted the program has changed their lives both physically and socially. The biggest criticism levied at the program is that it isn’t offered more than twice a week. Of course, the program is not offered just to residents of Holyrood — many members have come from surrounding areas to join the classes. Carol Ann Lewis is from Avondale and Sharon Green is from Colliers. Both have been participating in the program since it started, noting the social, physical and increased energy benefits they have seen from their participation.

“It isn’t easy, you work up a sweat,” said Green, laughing.

“But it’s beneficial,” said Lewis.

By Kyle Reid

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