Physical activity sessions for the over 60’s
The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still clear to see, especially among the county’s older residents. Arts Outburst based in Thurrock, set up sessions in the Creative Blast Studio at the Thameside Theatre to provide a safe space for residents to come and socialise and take part in physical activity to boost their mental and physical health.
Through the Together Fund, Active Essex provided funding to enable residents to attend the sessions free of charge, and create a space where participants could meet up with friends and stay active.
Designed for older people who may be isolated, lonely, or frail, the group offers a non-clinical solution to benefit residents, improving quality of life, strength and mobility, as well as mental and emotional wellbeing.
Aimed at the over 60’s, the classes provide fun, low impact dance-based fitness sessions, as well as chair-based exercises. They provide a great opportunity for residents to engage and socialise with others in their community, with the programme often resulting in further activities being attended with newly formed friendship groups, ensuring a sustainable pathway to support self-care. These have included workshops in Bollywood Dance, Line Dancing and Maypole Dancing, as well as attending the Arts Outburst Community Players programme, which involves drama and musical theatre.
The sessions themselves were informal and suited all fitness levels, with a chair-based options and different levels of impact available. The participants made friendships within the group, often meeting for coffee and were able to support each other with lifts if needed.
By holding a number of sessions each week, ensured that participants were able to choose a time and day that suited them best. They didn’t need to commit to the same session each week and support was provided to help participants book their sessions using an online booking system. This helped to remove any potential barriers to them attending the sessions, by making it as easy and accessible as possible.
We know that the pandemic had a huge effect on our most vulnerable communities, including older people and people living with a disability. This project was somewhat of a lifeline, bringing together local residents in a safe and supportive environment to get active, meet new people and reduce social isolation.