Bill Peel, Thomas Hoffman and Gary Martin - all participated in the Stepping On Program which has benefitted them greatly.

Seniors encouraged to get moving on April Falls Day

Apr 01, 2023

On April Falls Day, Mid North Coast residents over the age of 65 are being encouraged to get physically active to help reduce the risk of a fall and maintain their strength and independence.

Better Balance for Fall Prevention is the theme of this year’s April Falls Day. The annual event to encourage older adults to become more active and reduce falls, is recognised on April 1 and supported by the NSW Fall Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network.

Bellingen residents, Thomas Hoffman, Gary Martin and Bill Peel, recently participated in Stepping On, a free seven-week fall prevention program aimed at improving balance and movement, promoting hazard awareness and maintaining a healthy and independent lifestyle.

The trio signed up following a stint in hospital for Thomas, where he was confined to a wheelchair and had to undergo intensive physical therapy to get his mobility back.

“During the course we learnt how to walk safely, what obstacles to look out for, exercises to do to increase balance and strength and even what type of shoes are best to walk in. It really built up my strength, confidence and motivation to move more,” Mr Hoffman said.

Mr Martin participated in the program as a carer and has seen a significant improvement in Thomas since his involvement in Stepping On.

“None of us were going to wrap ourselves up in cotton wool and sit in a corner, Thomas especially has more motivation to get out of bed, walk the dog and enjoy keeping his body strong and active,” he said. 

Senior Principal Research Scientist at NeuRA and President of the Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Society Professor Kim Delbaere said: “Older people benefit from regular tai chi, group exercise programs, gym sessions, community-based falls prevention programs such as Stepping On, or simple exercises at home to improve muscle strength and balance.”

“Research has also shown that regular exercise can reduce falls in older people by 23 per cent, but slowly building up high-challenge balance exercises can increase the effects of exercise by up to 40 per cent.”

The Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) has collaborated with the NSW Fall Prevention and Healthy Ageing Network to produce a range of April Falls resources for patients, families, carers and health staff and fall prevention information is available on the CEC website.

To find a local exercise group that includes balance and strength exercises, visit the NSW Active and Healthy website: https://www.activeandhealthy.nsw.gov.au/

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