Healthy ageing, stronger bodies, social support – and even a wedding – are just some of the benefits of joining over-50s physical activity club Active 4 Life in Tendring.
The club runs classes three times a week for over 100 people aged over 50 at Clacton Leisure Centre, with sessions consisting of badminton, table tennis, tennis, swimming, and circuit training. Many of the participants are aged over 65.
“It’s never too late to start exercising – and the health benefits are enormous,” says Maggie Parkes, Group Fitness Manager at Active 4 Life.
“Regular exercise helps to deter certain medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. It also keeps our minds sharp by keeping them active.“Evidence also shows that aerobic exercise improves our cognitive abilities. During exercise, the brain receives an increase in blood, oxygen and nutrients which keep our brains well fuelled and alert.
“Our classes also include weighted exercises, to keep muscles strong and osteoporosis at bay for our members.”
Maggie said the club also provides an important social hub.
She added: “The great thing about these sessions is that they not only give the participants that important physical wellbeing aspect, but they also provide a lifeline for many. One member said she wouldn’t see anyone during the week if she didn’t come here.
“Older people are particularly vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness which can have tremendous effects on their health.”
One participant, Joan Tyler, aged 88, epitomises the social benefits – she met fellow member and now husband Roy Parker three years ago at Active 4 Life.
“It was love at first sight – we hit it off straight away” she said.
“I look good for my age and it’s all down to Maggie – she keeps us in good stead. I think everyone over the age of 50 who lives nearby should just come and give it a go because I think we’re all brilliant and feel so much better for it.”
Active 4 Life is a great example of partnership working between the community who run the sessions and Tendring District Council who run the leisure centre. It provides a tremendous opportunity to replicate this successful model in other parts of Tendring and Essex.