Retirement Living and Active Ageing – Purpose built gyms encourage everyone to exercise

At the end of June we took part in the National Retirement Living Summit, by Property Council of Australia. The two days of the event were filled with many great discussions, get-togethers, celebrations and planning sessions. Retirement living is getting bigger and bolder with so many great facilities, filled with the best services to choose from!

We were so happy to have the team from HUR Finland join us, with the chairman of the board Mats Manderbacka and Timo Toivonen being part of our team.

What a great way to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of HUR!

With all the conversation on the benefits active aging, and the importance of selecting appropriate equipment that encourage everyone to exercise, the publishing on my latest health and wellness column in the winter edition of "Aged Care Today", the magazine of Aged & Community Care Providers Association, has the perfect timing.

The article, titled "Purpose-built gyms in retirement villages, Embracing a culture of Active Ageing" discusses the importance of the inclusion of a gym in a retirement facility, and making it appropriate to fit everyone in the facility, from the fittest to the frailest, creating a culture of active ageing, welcoming every resident to join in. You can access the full article here.

The benefits of exercise are well established and widely discussed. From preventing and treating chronic diseases, to improving physical function and enhancing mental health and wellbeing, exercise is key factor allowing us to age the best way we can, improving our independence and quality of life, as well as maximising longevity. The research evidence also verifies that exercise, and especially strength training become increasingly important as we age. While we lose muscle at the rate of 8 per cent per decade in our 50s, muscle loss, sarcopenia, becomes more rapid as we reach our 70s,  with the rate of muscle loss reaching 15% per decade. 

With the trend of active ageing gaining momentum, most retirement villages are including health and wellness concepts in their offerings. The services though vary – whilst some providers consider all users, including those with limited mobility, many still cater their offering for a limited group. When planning a health and wellness setting for a retirement village, it is important to consider all users, and indeed every village resident. Rather than settling with the traditional treadmill, bike and dumbbells, it is worthwhile looking at winder options that also cater for the novice users, as well as users with mobility issues.

Also, a successful retirement village gym is embraced by the facility’s active ageing culture that is created by the site, nurtured by the staff (village managers, lifestyle coordinators, fitness and allied health staff) and celebrated by the residents, encouraging everyone to join in, celebrating ageing the healthy way.

A great example of this active ageing culture is AURA by Livewell Communities in Findon, South Australia, where health and wellness is seen as a high priority, with the site fitted with a pool and a gym, and where residents are supported by their own in-house exercise physiologist. You can read more about the site in this column

The latest ACCPA magazine also celebrates Finnish culture, discussing "Ageing the Finnish Way, sharing the secret of happiness", discussing some insights to our culture as well as the services we provide to our older Finns in Australia. You can access the full article here

The Australian Finnish Community is lucky to have their own care facility - Finncare. The facility has a 61-bed residential home with a customised HUR FinnGym, 23 retirement villa units, and community care to over 300 clients. The article quotes Alexandra Faull, Finncare CEO, who states that, “The success of Finncare reflects the determination and ‘sisu’ of the residents, consumers, staff and wider Finnish community to make Finncare the best place to live and work, after all Finns are the happiest people in the world. Happiness comes from shared language, celebrating tradition and history, remaining active within the community and a sense of belonging.”

Hobsons Bay has become the most Finnish location in Victoria with the Finnish society located in Altona, and also hosting the Finnish Home Care and social activity service, Finnish Friendly Visiting Service (FFVS). Furthermore, Hobsons Bay has two exercise facilities fitted with Finnish equipment – Avanti health club fitted with HUR equipment, and Donald McLean Reserve fitted with Lappet seniors’ exercise park equipment. In April we were lucky to celebrate these Finnish innovations in our Special Event, Active Ageing the Finnish Way in Hobsons Bay, as reported in our earlier blogpost

You can find both these columns, as well as all previous ones on our Articles -page. The center point  for both these articles is culture – the decisions and actions we make to create a surrounding that leads into the way of living for not just us, but also the people around us. If we believe in change and take appropriate steps, we can create magic, and the culture of active ageing truly is a key to happy and health ageing. We have been lucky to be part of so many positive stories, some of them reported here on our Testimonials -page.

We can’t wait to share more stories like these soon!

Dr Tuire Karaharju-Huisman
Physiotherapist, Accredited Exercise Physiologist (ESSAM), PhD (Biomechanics)
Research Lead, Area Account Manager (Vic, Tas, SA)