EXTEND Exercise as Social Interaction

Aug 2, 2019 | Teacher's Corner

We are all aware of the many physical benefits of exercise, but do we realise how important exercise is for our emotional and mental health? The social connection we have with other people is a significant aspect of our happiness and overall sense of well-being; therefore any exercise programme for seniors should involve a social element.

The Extend classes for seniors provide a perfect combination of exercise and social interaction. The classes promote physical, mental and emotional vitality as members participate in movement as a group in an atmosphere of fun.

This is evident when members who are unable to exercise because of illness or injury still attend class and ask whether they can sit in and enjoy the company and the music. To them, the group atmosphere is obviously as important as are the actual exercises.

The music we choose for the various movements forms a significant part of the social atmosphere and emotional mood of the class. Music that focuses on a theme is one of the ways in which the classes promote social interaction. Members are invited to guess the theme linking the music. Is it romantic music for Valentine’s Day? Or is it music that focuses on a theme such as flowers, animals, colours, girls’ names, faraway places or the musicals?

Much laughter is generated when class members come up with answers and suggestions! Some even produce movements that relate to the music such as a baby elephant walk for an animal theme or a cha-cha and a jive for a dancing theme. In this way, they execute their chair marches, leg raises, biceps curls, triceps stretches, heel digs, neck strengthening movements and intercostal exercises that lead to deep breathing, flexibility, mobility and enhanced circulation.

Many members say that the classes enable them to form friendships and enjoy a sense of community with others through active participation in an activity that benefits their health.

Exercising in a social context such as an Extend class therefore provides a form of life participation and recreational therapy!

To find out more about our EXTEND CLASS TIMES click here.


(Judy Gruenewaldt)