Get active, pensioners urged as healthier lifestyles promoted

Get active, pensioners urged as healthier lifestyles promoted

PENSIONERS in Sheffield are being encouraged to get more active in 2011, as the city launches a new "Fit At 60" healthy lifestyle scheme.

The project is being run by Sheffield International Venues (SIV), which operates sports facilities at Don Valley Stadium, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Hillsborough Leisure Centre and Concord Sports centre.

It has been designed to fit in with the coalition Government's "Active At 60" campaign, which has provided 1m to fund health projects for pensioners.

Sheffield's scheme will give over 60s access to specially-designed exercise sessions at SIV-run sports centres, which together include four gyms, five swimming pools, 200 weekly classes, aqua aerobics sessions and running clubs.

Personal trainer Dave Birds, who works for SIV and was last year awarded the accolade of Personal Trainer of the Year at the National Fitness Awards, said: "It's never too late to start leading a healthier lifestyle, but for many people the prospect of exercising in a gym, particularly those over 60, can be really daunting, which is why we have developed this campaign.

"It is about making people feel comfortable and welcome at our venues whatever their age and creating tailor-made fitness options designed to help strengthen the muscles and bones we need to keep us active.

"Physical activity is one of the most effective ways of positively influencing our health. Regular exercise can lower the risk of serious conditions, such as strokes, heart disease and certain cancers.

"It can add years to our lives, but most importantly, it keeps us happy and helps us maintain our independence."

Eileen Cooper, from Parson Cross, has been a member of SIVs gyms since 2007. She regularly takes part in "silver circuits", pilates and aerobics.

The 65-year-old said: "Regular exercise and keeping fit is something that has grown to be very important to me as I get older, so that my body stays ticking over. The variety of the classes on offer are fantastic for the over 60s as they are tailored to your needs.

"The instructors for the classes and the gym make you feel at ease offering their support and advice every step of the way."

Fit At 60 has been designed to cater for both able-bodied people and those with disabilities.

Mr Birds said: "Physical activity is vital for people of any age to add years to their life, and life to their years.

"No matter how old you are, it is really important to keep active to bring health benefits to everyone.

"Being physically active, at the right level, is proven to prevent illness and other health problems as you get older and improve your general wellbeing."

The announcement of the new scheme comes within days of new statistics being released, which reveal that people in Sheffield do more exercise than those in almost every other city in the UK.

The statistics, released by Sports England show that adult participation rates in sport have increased by almost six per cent in the last three years, meaning that 25.2 per cent of people in Sheffield aged between 18 and 45 now take part in three half-hour exercise sessions every week.

Sheffield's participation rates are now 3.5 per cent above the national average.

Coun Roger Davison, cabinet member for culture, sport and tourism at Sheffield Council, said: "This positive increase reflects our long-term strategy which focuses on all forms of active recreation.

"It is important that people get active in any way they can, not just through traditional sports.

"The latest Sport England figures are great news for the city but we certainly aren't getting complacent.

"A quarter of adults take part in 30 minutes of activity three times a week, but our aspiration is to get as active as Canada who has a participation rate of 40 per cent.

"We have made some real improvements recently including swimming provision and our gym and parks facilities."