Age UK Maidstone awarded grant to continue ‘Exercise and Socialise’ sessions for elderly residents


Age UK Maidstone have been awarded a £500 Community Grant for their exciting health and wellbeing project, Exercise and Socialise.

Recently, new research found that better access to exercise for the elderly could help free up hospital beds, with the charity Age Concern calling for more preventative measures in place to help people age more healthily and recover more quickly when they do find themselves in hospital.

The weekly Exercise and Socialise sessions, held at Madingford Hall, Bearsted, are led by 63 year old fitness instructor Cynthia Crane. She said, “Older people come here for a social occasion, and they also really enjoy the exercise.

“In the sessions, every muscle group is exercised and we end with Tai Chi. This leads to increased flexibility as well as strengthening arms and legs and improving balance – one of the main causes of falls and accidents. Regular exercise is vital for older people who want to maintain an independent lifestyle, as it not only makes daily tasks like reaching for things so much easier, but increases their confidence and improves mental wellbeing.

“The Exercise and Socialise sessions are accessible to everyone, and the exercises are adapted to the ability of the individuals to suit every level. Our oldest attendee is 90, some are wheelchair users and some have dementia. The exercise is always inclusive.”

Patricia Grimes, 79, has been attending the Age UK Maidstone Exercise and Socialise sessions for nearly five years. She said, “I absolutely love the exercise – we have a fantastic teacher. When I first started coming here I had Polymyalgia – I could hardly move at all. Now I’ve improved so much! So many of the people who come here have improved beyond recognition. We are so happy with the money we’ve been given to help us continue our classes.”

Nathan Brown, Community Manager at Bluebird Care Maidstone, awarded the £500 Community Grant to the delighted Exercise and Socialise attendees in the form of a giant cheque on Tuesday 18th April. He said, “At Bluebird Care, we see first-hand the positive effect exercise has on our customers, from helping to alleviate some of the symptoms of dementia, to improving mobility and independence. We are proud to support Age UK Maidstone’s fantastic scheme, making a difference to the lives of older people in the local community.”

Age UK Maidstone’s scheme manager Karen Kennedy, explained, “The money that Bluebird Care Maidstone have given us allows us to continue to rent the hall where the sessions are held, as well as raising awareness of Exercise and Socialise through local advertising. I know that there are many more people that would participate and enjoy this activity but they are unaware of it.

“Exercise is a key answer to keeping older people social. It builds confidence and mobility – without these things it can be hard to go out, and people can become isolated. Loneliness and isolation is reported to be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“Our project, Exercise and Socialise, recognises two important wellbeing needs in one session, social interactions and physical health. Social interaction improves mental stimulation, leading to a greater feeling of overall wellbeing, which in turn leads to better physical health too.

“It’s a lovely happy group. It’s great to see the fellas getting involved as well as the ladies. Some of the group suffer from dementia and it’s just wonderful to see them remembering more exercises each time they come to our sessions. They might not remember why they’re happy, but the feeling of wellbeing goes with them.”


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