Doreen Wilson has always been active – now she wants to get other older Aussies to do the same.
The 84-year-old gymnastics dynamo is the face of Move for Life, a program she developed with Gymnastics Queensland that focuses on improving mobility, strength, balance and coordination.
The former PE teacher told Starts at 60 she had been involved in the development of gymnastics throughout her career.
Doreen started teaching gymnastics to children, moved on to coaching older teens and then the parents who wanted to join in. But it wasn’t until she was retired that she considered training older people.
“I sat around for a few months, I was bored silly,” Doreen said of being retired, so she jumped at the chance to develop a program for seniors.
She developed a 10-week program but found that the participants wanted to continue once the 10 weeks were up.
“It flowed on from there,” she said of what ended up becoming the formal Move for Life program that she launched last week.
“Maintaining and gaining rather than losing, that’s what it is all about,” she explained. “It is not just ‘get out there and sweat’, the social interaction is absolutely tops.”
Move for Life was developed specifically for people looking to improve their physical strength and fitness in a fun, social and welcoming environment, with groups available for all ages.
“I must stress that we’re not talking cartwheels, vaults and trampolines, but Move for Life participants underestimate how far they can improve in a short period of time after starting the program,” Doreen said.
“It’s the small changes that get people excited.
The program, which involves only a small amount of equipment, is designed to build the specific muscle strength required to stay mobile and undertake daily activities.
“What is good for the body is good for the brain … I follow that,” Doreen said.
Doreen reckoned the Australian lifestyle was to blame for the nation’s declining fitness.
“We sit on our bottoms and eat the wrong things,” she said.
People do less physical activity as they age, and statistics show that just one in three men and one in five women over 75 do enough exercise.
But Doreen hopes to turn those numbers around.
“It is never too late to start,” she told Starts at 60.
Doreen’s tips for increasing fitness at home:
For further details on Move for Life and the participating gymnastics clubs, visit www.moveforlife.org.au.