Seated exercise classes have proved effective in helping Chelmsford residents build their strength, balance, and confidence. Part of the Forever Active Programme, these gentle exercise classes help participants walk with more confidence, lessen their joint pain – and build friendships.
Designed to rebuild strength and balance
The Forever Active Programme was initially launched to help tackle social isolation following Covid-19. Recognising that people had become isolated within their own homes, the council’s Community Sport and Wellbeing team wanted to create opportunities for people to socialise while increasing their physical activity.
Now, the project has developed and is focused on helping older residents keep active and build their strength through physical activity.
Forever Active offers a range of activities, such as keep fit classes, gentle yoga, and line dancing. Many of these sessions take place in local village halls and parish buildings, so that residents can attend without having too far to travel.
Councillor Natacha Dudley says beneficial programmes, like Forever Active, being easily accessible is key to their success:
“Classes like this make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of our older residents, and it’s important that those who can benefit the most are able to access them.
“The scheme has already evolved so much since it began and I’m sure it will continue to help even more residents improve their balance and strength.”Councillor Natacha Dudley, Cabinet Member for an Active Chelmsford
Building confidence session by session
Seated exercise has proved very popular, with three classes per week each attended by up to 30 people. Many of the attendees have found that the security of being seated while exercising makes the classes less daunting. But it doesn’t make them less effective!
One attendee says she signed up without much expectation, but has been pleasantly surprised:
“I first attended as [I thought] it might be something I could manage exercise-wise but didn’t have any expectations. As it turned out… The programme is excellent. The instructor is excellent. For people like me, with health and disability issues, “STRETCH” is the word!
“I do the exercises on two more occasions in the week at home and it helps my joints to an extent but has a big impact on my right shoulder joint. I could not lift my arm much at all, now I can lift it much higher than before. Also, I know which exercises to do to help alleviate pain wherever I’m troubled. Seriously helpful.
“The camaraderie that has developed in the class makes each session enjoyable. Our instructor encourages greatly without pushing too hard. Suddenly you realise the exercises are going on a bit longer and are more strenuous than in week one! Thank you.”Susan, aged 81
Social benefits as well as physical
Alongside improving physical health, joining in with a regular class can bring huge social benefits. Yolanda has seen improvement in her arthritis and muscle strength, but says it’s the laughs that mean the most:
“I decided to try forever Active as I was concerned I wasn’t getting enough exercise and have problems walking – tripping and falls, not helped by a knee replacement. I didn’t feel I could start aerobics at 77, but these exercises are perfect for me!
“I feel more confident walking now and have less trips. Our instructor, Paula, is a very good teacher and conscious of our abilities. I have some arthritis, and this has improved – my muscles seem stronger as well. I can also see improvement in some of the other ladies.
“I look forward to going each week and thoroughly enjoy meeting the ladies… the fun and laughter is what I enjoy most about the sessions. The exercises which bring laughter are my favourites.
“The moves are slow enough to do. The ball and stretch band really help and of course, giggles and laughter – also singing along. It’s a great atmosphere.”Yolanda, whose age is but-a-number
The sessions are suitable regardless of your experience
Mary, who attends Forever Active sessions in Moulsham, says she began seated exercise when other classes were no longer suitable for her:
“I first attended the sessions because I used to attend keep fit classes but my balance was not good enough to carry on. Seated exercise is helping to keep me active and I enjoy the company and the laughter.
“It’s a lovely, relaxed way of keeping fit and keeping movement in all limbs. Plus, I can walk to there as the class is local.”Mary, who feels younger by the day
Whether you are beginning to find other physical activities too much, or haven’t exercised for years, Forever Active seated exercise is a great way to get active and grow your strength!
Classes are currently held once a week at Moulsham Community Lodge, once a week at Cottage Place Community Centre and another weekly session takes place at Cottey House in Galleywood. You can call 01245 606569 for more details, or visit chelmsford.gov.uk/forever-active/
Not sure seated exercise is for you? There are plenty of other activities available as part of the Forever Active scheme. Head to chelmsford.gov.uk/forever-active/ to see what is on offer.