In conjunction with the other gymnastics state associations, Gymnastics Queensland have developed and implemented a gymnastics-based movement program targeting adults aged 55 and over. The program aims to assist older adults to remain active, engage in physical activity, remain independent and prevent fall related injuries.
The program aligns and supports the Gymnastics Queensland vision for the next 5 years, 'Gymnastics: The Foundation of Movement for Life' in promoting gymnastics as a 'sport for everybody'.
In 2017, the program for older adults became a strategic focus in Queensland, with Gymnastics Queensland further investing in the program through the employment of a Community Activations Officer. The designated staff member has assisted with the implementation and sustainability of programs in the community across the state. Additionally, Gymnastics Queensland has assisted clubs to adopt the program through the removal of all state association membership costs for individuals aged 55 and above.
Successes of the past 12 months include:
Current evidence from the Australian Bureau of Statistics projects an ageing population in Australia. This, coupled with studies showing that fall injuries accounted for 77% of hospitalisations for Australians aged 65 and over (Hospitalised Injury in Older Adults, 2011-2012) and trends showing that levels of physical activity declines in older ages (Australian Health Survey: Physical Activity, 2011-12), encouraged the development of a gymnastics based movement program for older adults.
The gymnastics program aims to increase mobility, strength, balance, coordination and flexibility, while encouraging older adults to keep active in a social environment. These factors, together with current data (Vogel et al., 2009; Sherrington et al., 2008; De Oliveria et al, 2014), show that gymnastics and physical activity can improve the quality of life of older adults and help reduce the incidence of fall related injuries.
Given the ageing population and program benefits, the demand and interest in the classes continues to increase. The program is now being delivered in 25 locations across the state, with 488 regular participants.
Gymnastics Queensland and its affiliated clubs have received many anecdotes highlighting the everyday benefits of the program, ranging from helping participants engage in more activities with grandchildren, the social aspect, and the life skills they have been able to re-gain. Some of the anecdotes included:
Following the growth of the program over the last 12 months, we have gained the capacity to deliver in 32 more locations across the state and it is hoped that the program will continue to develop exponentially throughout the remainder of 2018 and into 2019.