We recently caught up with Shine’s in-house Exercise Physiologist Joel Warman, he talked us through his two years heading up the village's Wellness Centre and some of the more popular and beneficial exercises for men and women over 55.
Joel is passionate about helping patients with persistent pain and before joining the team at Shine he worked in a hospital-based rehabilitation centre for 10 years. This involved providing exercise based prescriptions for conditions such as arthritis, joint replacements, neurological disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
What inspired you to join the team at Shine?
I like working with people and being able to help others through exercise or lifestyle advice. Everyone needs exercise regardless of their age and I enjoy being able to help provide this based on people’s individual circumstances.
What sort of fitness classes do you offer at Shine?
At the village's Wellness Centre I’ve made sure to include classes that cover a range of physical and health needs for our residents. We offer classes such as balance training, aqua aerobics, dance aerobics, group walks and stretching classes.
Plus social activities such as indoor bowls, table tennis and billiards. I also like to include programs such as mindfulness to increase awareness about the importance of psychological health in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
What are some of the differences between men and women in terms of fitness preferences?
Over the years, I’ve observed that men like to exercise independently, giving them flexibility to control their own exercise and work out on their own terms. Women tend to be more attracted to group exercises. Men are always encouraged and invited to join the group classes – and many do.
I noticed some reluctance from our male residents to attend aqua aerobics, with many of the opinion that the class was more suited for women. Aqua exercise has many real benefits for the human body, regardless of gender. The buoyancy of the water off-sets the body’s weight and therefore reduces the load on the joints, while the hydrostatic pressure of the water also helps to support pain free joint movement while moving against the constant resistance of water. It allows people to move and perform a greater range and intensity of movements than they might be able to perform on land.
I decided to create a male-only aqua class in an attempt to encourage more men along to the class – and that’s exactly what happened!
Can you tell us about a resident who has really benefited from your classes?
One resident was experiencing joint pain in his legs which was limiting his daily activity and preventing participation in his normal gym routine. He’d previously overlooked aqua aerobics due to perceiving it as ‘easy’ exercise but soon came to realise the benefits the class has to offer. He gradually gained increased movement and function back to a point he was able to return to his previous exercise. But he is still a regular in the pool now for our aqua sessions!
What are some of the physical benefits for exercising as a senior?
With aging we see a decline in many physical attributes that we take for granted at a younger age. One of the major benefits of physical exercise as we age is that it can slow the decline in strength, cardiovascular fitness and mobility.
The saying ‘use it or lose it’ becomes very relevant as we age and even more so when we retire as the amount of incidental activity we do also reduces.
Physical exercise can protect against the loss of muscle strength, cardiorespiratory capacity and mobility as we age, leading to a longer and improved quality of life.
What about non-physical benefits for exercising?
It’s important not to overlook the psychosocial benefits of regular activity. These can include improved self-confidence, self-efficacy and stress management, as well as increasing blood flow and oxygenation of the brain which in turn keeps the brain healthier longer.
What do you find most rewarding about the work you do?
I like working with people and being able to help them achieve something positive in their life, whether it is physical benefits or increased positive social interaction. I enjoy working with the residents at Shine Birtinya because they are a great bunch of people. We have many wonderful chats and a good laugh during our various programs.
What advice would you give to seniors about exercising at home?
Ideally, seniors need to do a minimum of 30 minutes of cardiorespiratory exercise per day, such as walking, bike riding and swimming. It’s also important to complete some sort of moderate intensity resistance training exercise two to three times per week in order to maintain muscular strength.
When considering an exercise program it is always recommended to speak to your doctor or an exercise professional to ensure the exercise is safe for your current health status.
I will always tell residents that something is better than nothing. Even though what you do might be less than the recommended amount, starting small can help build a habit of exercise.