Exercise and movement have such a positive impact on both our mental and physical health, and this was clear to see in lockdown when everyone was confined to their 5km radiuses.
cohealth’s exercise groups are a great way for people who face barriers to healthcare to join a group and feel a sense of community, while getting individualised exercise in a friendly, non-judgemental space. The exercise groups not only prepare people to join a local gym or establish their own fitness routine, but they also allow people to build new confidence and socialise.
“When running exercise groups, there’s a real social element – that’s what community health is all about,” says Kate Murphy, cohealth Exercise Physiologist.
“It’s not just come and do your exercises and we’ll see you later. It’s about connecting with other people.”
During lockdowns, it was difficult for cohealth staff to know that clients who had worked so hard at attending these groups didn’t have an avenue for exercise and connection. Although there were virtual exercise groups offered, not all clients had the access to the technology needed for this. This was a common theme of the lockdowns – people who face healthcare barriers unable to participate in online communities.
“It’s been really hard to see that a lot of clients who were doing so well three years ago had a really tough time during the lockdowns.”
However, this winter things are warming up again, with most of our exercise groups now meeting in person.
There’s tai chi, circuit training, group gym sessions, hydrotherapy, strength-based exercise, balance classes, yoga, and more on offer! We even have our very own recreational football and cricket teams, the cohealth Kangas.
All of our exercise programs and groups are designed for people to have a go at their own pace, with our qualified physiotherapists, exercise physiologists and allied health assistants encouraging clients to try their best. Once clients have gained confidence throughout the program and feel safe and secure while exercising, they are supported to find a long-term exercise option they enjoy doing and that is affordable for them. This might be getting a gym membership, joining a fitness or home exercise program or joining formal or informal exercise classes. The emphasis here is on helping clients find an option where they feel comfortable and supported.
“We have a lot of relationships with different organisations in the community that we link people to,” says Kate. “We want to help find an option that’s ongoing for every person, we work really closely with people to find the best option for them.”
Kate talks about clients who are isolated, anxious and believe that exercise isn’t an option for them. However, with persistence, encouragement and patience, they find what works for them.
“There’s one client in his 80s who didn’t leave the house at all during lockdowns, so he was really socially isolated,” she says. “Once we were back, he did some one-on-one sessions to grow his confidence and then joined a group and kept wanting to come more and more days. He was loving that it got him out of the house and his mood really improved.”
Through a program of exercise and movement, clients gain strength, mobility and fitness. It’s not all physical though, with clients benefiting enormously from the sense of community, belonging and pride.
“That’s what I love about my job. It’s not just about the exercise. It’s about so much more.”
Check out the different groups available and find out how you can get involved over on our community groups webpage.