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Here, real people share their experiences of various fit as a fiddle events.
After retirement, Norma became very lonely. She visited her local doctor and was prescribed medication for depression. Then a friend told her about the Nordic Walking class delivered by Age UK Newham who are part of the Fit as a Fiddle programme and she decided to give it a go.
Since joining the group Norma hasn’t looked back. She gets on really well with the other nordic walkers and has formed strong friendships. They now meet up regularly outside of the walking group. Due to being active she has lost two stone and, even more importantly, she is no longer on medication.
Reflecting on her experience with Age UK Newham's walking group, Norma commented:
'The only time i visit the doctor is to tell him to “join in Nordic Walking as you're looking a little bit peaky and need to exercise.” My new motto on life is 'when I put my trainers on I come alive!'
In Nottingham and Liverpool the Older Men’s Fit as a Fiddle projects enlisted local football clubs to deliver football related sessions.
Participant Ant commented: ‘I did not know that salt could affect my blood pressure, I’m on tablets but never heard anything about salt. Makes sense really I have a good lot of salt on everything really, especially on boiled eggs which I have for breakfast every day, but I have changed that to some high fibre stuff and I do feel better and happier’.
Nigel said: ‘I did not know that salt could affect my blood pressure, I’m on tablets but never heard anything about salt. Makes sense really I have a good lot of salt on everything really, especially on boiled eggs which I have for breakfast every day, but I have changed that to some high fibre stuff and I do feel better and happier.’
To find out more go to the Older Men's Network website
Over 547 people have taken part in a series of activities across Devon, including aqua aerobics and assisted swimming. The philosophy behind the project has been of inclusivity:
The Project Co-ordinator explaimed: ‘I've always wanted to have an inclusive approach to the sessions - gender, all of the issues, ethnicity and homosexuality.’
One of the Devon swimming participant's explained his experience: ‘Prior to joining the swimming group I had had two hip replacements and a shoulder replacement. My mobility, stamina and confidence were poor. I can now swim both breast stroke and crawl again and can complete an hour’s exercise in the water.
'I really enjoy myself, it's made a great difference to my life. I can now walk anywhere including uneven ground, manage steps, stairs, run and dance; I recommend exercise swimming to everyone.’
Project staff also told the story of a stroke survivor in his late 50’s: ‘When he first attended he led a very isolated life, then he joined our swimming sessions. He used his zimmer to walk up to the shallow end and his balance was very much affected by his condition, his swallowing, his speech as well and muscle tone.
'I set up a programme specifically to his needs, he had been a strong swimmer but he had to re-learn. He's now got his 200 metres certificate, he's able to dress and walk unaided and he's actually conversing. His swallowing mechanism is better and he's joining us for a cup of tea. His strength and balance and whole demeanour has been uplifted and he's a much happier guy.’
Leslie joined the Fit as a Fiddle Talking Tonics Active Health Telephone Group – ran by Community Network. The group engages isolated older adults to help improve their health and well-being.
‘I have been living alone for the last 13 years and feel very lonely - which is not a good feeling. The groups have been fantastic and talking about my condition with others in similar situations helps me to overcome things.
'It has enhanced my health through learning different tips and given me a different viewpoint on arthritis and what you can do about it. In many circumstances people with different health conditions tend to isolate themselves as they feel they are the only one going through it but the group has helped me to overcome this.'
Joan is 88 and finds it difficult to leave her sheltered housing complex so through Age UK’s Fit as a Fiddle programme, Joan and other residents take part in armchair exercise classes based on site. During the class and afterwards there is a lot of socialising and talking and the opportunity for people living in the local community to come into the housing complex and build relationships. Joan has been given a written outline of the exercises so it is clear about what they are doing in each class, which also acts as a memory aid for practicing between sessions. She says: ‘If Fit as a Diddle does pack up I think we will go back into our little shells.’
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