Healthy for Life: New TV programme helps older people stay active at home

Brain Research New Zealand members have combined forces with leading researchers and health professionals to develop “Healthy for Life”, a TV special to help older people stay physically active during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The project is led by Assoc Prof John Parsons (University of Auckland), and the team includes five members of Brain Research New Zealand: Prof Ngaire Kerse (University of Auckland), Prof Denise Taylor (AUT), Dr Gary Cheung (University of Auckland), Liz Binns (AUT), and Dr Phil Wood (Ministry of Health). They work across academia with experts from Massey and Otago University, non-governmental organisations (Age Concern, Sport Canterbury), DHBs, and central governmental organisations such as ACC, HQSC, and the Health Promotion Agency.

Staying physically active while we age means that we can keep our independence, says Prof Ngaire Kerse. “Ageing is no barrier to activity, it’s our, and society’s, perception that is the problem. Older muscles and hearts respond to training just like younger ones, so offer them the opportunity to stay strong by exercising. Building activity into life is key. Start slow and keep going.

Prof Ngaire Kerse in "Healthy for Life."

During the COVID-19 lockdown, staying active is especially critical for our wellbeing, Prof Kerse explains: “Every moment you sit is too long and a day in bed means loss of muscle and muscle strength. Any movement is good movement, especially when our opportunities to move are restricted, like during lockdown. Remember, you can come out of this pandemic strong and independent by moving, thinking, and exercising throughout.”

“Healthy for Life” focuses on an exercise programme called “Super7”, developed by Prof Denise Taylor and Liz Binns. Super7, which is being used by physiotherapists across New Zealand, is evidence-based and can be safely undertaken by older people within their homes. When we stay at home more we reduce the amount we move, we all may notice that. For older adults this can result in a reduction in leg strength and balance, two of the important modifiable factors linked with preventing falls,“ Prof Taylor explains. “The exercise programme is based on exercises that are included in most successful falls prevention programmes – there is evidence behind their use.”

The TV programme will also touch on other key themes, she adds: “Appearing alongside the exercises are useful tips and bits of information about living well; information on sleep, eating and connecting with other people.”

“Healthy for Life” will be hosted by Bernice Mene and will air on TVNZ 1 at 9 am from Saturday 2 May.


Banner image: Liz Binns (on the left) in "Healthy for Life".

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