Dec 24, 2015
Ken is one of 40 residents regularly taking part in exercise sessions led by the specially trained team at the home. Recommended guidelines state older adults should participate in at least 150 minutes of exercise a week to prevent falls, maintain independence and manage symptoms of dementia.
Ken Williamson, 93, has proven you’re never too old to start exercising again and has won a national award for embracing his new hobby with such enthusiasm, dancing his way to victory.
Ken is one of as many as forty residents at Appleby House who love taking part in the thrice weekly scheduled ‘Oomph!’ exercise sessions in the home. These sessions are designed to make exercising in old age fun again, using popular music, dance moves, colourful props and story-telling routines.
Activity coordinator at Appleby House, Jacqueline Dye, who nominated Ken for the award, was trained by the award-winning social enterprise Oomph! Wellness. She said “Ken is always waiting at the door for our Oomph! sessions to start, he loves exercise and used to do ballroom dancing with his wife who unfortunately now can no longer dance. Ken is so enthusiastic during the sessions and gets up to join me for a waltz. When Ken first arrived at Appleby House he used to sit in his suite and was unwilling to come out, now he is dancing his days away and is so much happier and always smiling.”
Ken himself says: “It takes me back to the old days. It rejuvenates me both of mind and spirit of my days as a youngster in the forces and civilian life with my dear wife of 66 years.”
Joan, Ken’s wife, meanwhile, said “Ken really enjoys the Oomph! sessions, he seems happier and more aware. It makes my heart glad that Ken is happy in his surroundings.”
Ken is one of thousands of older adults that are taking part in the Oomph! sessions each month across the UK. Oomph! founder, Ben Allen said: “Oomph! stands for Our Organisation Makes People Happy! and that’s what we aim to do every day. Our research shows that older adults don’t proactively seek out exercise classes. Instead we offer them a song and dance party that happens to exercise their body - and they can’t get enough of it! They are enjoying themselves, they’re socialising and they’re getting fitter and stronger at the same time.”
Ken’s prize for winning the competition is his very own ballroom dancing experience and an ‘Oomph! Party’ at the home, including a bespoke cinema experience of some classic dance hall moments.
Shona Bradbury, manager at Appleby House, a Care UK home, said “We have seen a reduction in falls this month which I think is down to the Oomph! classes. The visual aspects of Oomph! work really well in getting residents engaged. We have residents, colleagues and relatives all joining in Oomph! Sessions - they really lift the mood of the home. Instructor Jacqueline is revelling in her role as an Oomph! Instructor, she consistently delivers enthusiastic, confident and engaging sessions. She is adored by residents.”
George McNamara, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Society, who funded the training and support programme on behalf of Appleby House said: “We’re thrilled to be a part of this wonderful story. Leading a physically active lifestyle can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of old people, especially those living with dementia and mild cognitive impairment. Exercise is beneficial for physical and mental health and may improve the quality of life for people in all stages of the condition. Oomph! gets people exercising in an enjoyable way. By involving family and friends in the sessions makes it even more powerful.”
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