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This week: From senior cit to senior fit • Hundreds of organisations reducing stigma this World Mental Health Day • Australian Fitness Awards open for nominations

From senior cit to senior fit

Community exercise programs could be key to helping Australia’s ageing population maintain bone and muscle health, while busting common misconceptions about the type of exercise best for older adults, according to a new Deakin University study.

Professor Robin Daly, Chair in Exercise and Ageing at Deakin’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), said retirees needed to look beyond gentle exercises like walking and water aerobics if they wanted to get serious about their musculoskeletal health.

‘Weight-bearing exercise is crucial to maintain our bone health. Unlike our cardiovascular system, bones like to be regularly stressed and will adapt positively to the loads and demands placed on them’ Daly said.

‘Unfortunately that message just doesn’t seem to be getting through, and right now around 75 to 95% of Australians over 50 are not meeting recommended physical activity targets to maintain good bone and muscle health. So while we know that exercise can improve musculoskeletal health and function, many people and even medical professionals, don’t often know what particular type of exercise works best for older adults to see these improvements.’

To this end, Professor Daly has developed an evidence-backed program he’s dubbed ‘Osteo-cise: Strong Bones for Life’, which has been trialled in a number of community leisure centres in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

The trial evaluation was published in a recent edition of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, and shows that it delivered multiple improvements to muscle and bone health, not only in its implementation phase – when researchers were closely overseeing the program – but also after the community leisure centres took over its management.

‘That’s critical, because it’s one thing to see results in a controlled setting where you have all these extra resources and experts working directly with a population group. But we wanted to establish if we could implement a community program that continued to see benefits after we left’ Daly said; ‘We showed that what we developed in theory does work in practice in the real world to get older Australians active in improving their musculoskeletal health.’

About 160 people took part in the trial, with half in the exercise program and half making up a control group. The program was targeted at people aged over 60 living in the community who were at risk of falls and fracture due to low bone density or osteopenia.

Gym instructors at participating leisure centres were specifically upskilled to deliver tailored exercise programs targeting the muscles around the hip and spine, including progressive resistance and weight-bearing impact, and how to deliver challenging balance and mobility training to optimise muscle function.

‘In the 12 months with researcher supervision the attendance rate was about two out of three sessions per week, and we saw positive effects of exercise on the lumbar spine and femoral neck bone mineral density, improved muscle strength, and physical function’ Daly said; ‘During the final six months the attendance dropped to below 50% but the musculoskeletal benefits were maintained following this research to practice phase. So while attendance did drop off somewhat and participants weren’t attending every session, the good news is that the initial benefits were maintained with a lower dose of training.

‘Given that time is a major factor stopping people from exercising, this is a really positive finding. Our study shows if you take a correct approach to exercise, multiple bone, muscle and function improvements can be sustained in older adults with low bone density with just one or two training sessions per week.’

Daly is now hoping to secure further funding to translate the ‘Osteo-cise’ program into a national exercise initiative for older adults.

‘What we want to do next is train up more health professionals to deliver this kind of program to older Australians, and provide professional development for clinicians on best practice exercise programs for older people’ he said; ‘Currently a lot of what is being delivered isn’t evidence-based. So now we’ve shown what works we want to scale that up, and get more older Australians building healthy bones and strong muscles for life.’

Source: Deakin University

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Hundreds of organisations reducing stigma this World Mental Health Day

More than 400 organisations across the country will be promoting World Mental Health Day this year in a bid to reduce stigma and foster connectivity throughout the community.

World Mental Health Day on Thursday 10 October is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It is an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health to raise public awareness of mental health issues worldwide.

The 2019 Australian World Mental Health Day campaign challenges perceptions about mental illness in Australia and encourages everyone to look at mental health in a more positive light, in an effort to reduce stigma and make way for more people to seek the help and support they deserve.

The campaign tagline, ‘Do You See What I See?’ aims to encourage people to ‘see beyond the stigma’ that so often surrounds mental health issues, and to ‘make mental health more visible.’ The campaign has received a strong response so far, with over 30 different organisations partnering with Mental Health Australia to help reduce stigma and promote help-seeking throughout Australia, and a further 400 ordering campaign materials to promote to staff, students and colleagues.

Get involved by ordering free campaign materials or making a #MentalHealthPromise at

Source: Mental Health Australia

To mark Mental Health Week, and World Mental Health Day this Thursday, Network is taking 20% off the following courses – simply enter the code MHW2019 at checkout before midnight on Sunday 13 October 2019.

Learn how to coach clients who live with depression or anxiety and help them on their journey to recovery.

Explore the benefits of good nutrition and exercise for mental health.

Gain a better understanding of mental illness in relation to exercise.


Australian Fitness Awards open for nominations

The 2020 Australian Fitness Awards powered by Fitness Australia are now open for nominations.

The awards recognise the contribution of those who facilitate better health and wellbeing across Australian communities.

CEO of industry registration body Fitness Australia, Barrie Elvish said ‘We know it can take blood, sweat and tears to make positive changes to people’s lives, so I’d encourage these inspirational stories to be shared through the 2020 Australian Fitness Awards program – have your clients share their fitness story and nominate you, your business or your program, for the opportunity to gain national recognition.’

New Awards in the 2020 program will recognise club managers, fitness educators, community activation initiatives, and community volunteers.

‘With our focus on community engagement, we look forward to receiving nominations that demonstrate the innovative ways that providers are engaging with their communities to get them moving – it could be charity event collaborations, local fun runs or offering services to specific community groups to make fitness more accessible and inclusive’ explained Elvish.

Individual Awards include Group Exercise Instructor of the Year; Personal Trainer of the Year; Fitness Student of the Year; and Fitness Educator of the Year.

Business Awards include Boutique Fitness Business of the Year; Not-for-Profit Fitness Business of the Year; Fitness Business of the Year; Quality Accredited Fitness Business of the Year; and Club Manager of the Year.

Community Awards include Community Exercise Program or Event Award; Community Activation Award; and Community Volunteer Award.

The Awards of Honour are the Fitness Industry Roll of Honour and the Chairperson’s Award.

By nominating a fitness provider, educator, program, event or volunteer at you could be in with the chance to win 1 of 5 Fitbits. National winners will be announced at the 2020 Australian Fitness Awards Gala Dinner in Sydney on Friday 1 May 2020.

Source: Fitness Australia

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