GroupsImpactNewsA group of elderly people participate in a chair-based exercise class

Unique activity network Generation Games provides fitness classes and information to make Oxfordshire’s elderly population happier and healthier.

Generation Games is a service provided by the Oxfordshire branch of national charity Age UK. The service encourages people aged 50 and above to remain active by offering classes tailored to the needs of older people, such as chair-based group exercises. This is a particularly vital lifeline for some of the more isolated and elderly participants, who report it being one of the only times they leave the house in a typical week. With some research suggesting that loneliness can be as bad for a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, the opportunity for social contact during the classes is just as important as the physical exercise. As grandmother-of-three Isobel Gorman, who attends the Generation Games zumba classes at Bicester Health and Wellbeing Centre, says: “I think it’s excellent because these sort of things keep you going. It’s really worthwhile.”

The Generation Games initiative has benefited from funding via Oxfordshire Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter appeal, which has provided grants to keep some groups going through financial difficulty. The service has also received further funding from one of OCF’s anonymous donors, allowing the project to start up eight new tai chi classes for older people in South Oxfordshire.

Regular exercise has proven health benefits for elderly people, many of whom have no other opportunity to remain active. Exercise can reduce the risk of Ischaemic heart disease by a huge 40%, and both Type 2 diabetes and dementia by 30%. Generation Games’ offering includes a free DVD when participants sign up to their programme, which instructs them in age-appropriate exercises that they can practise at home in addition to any classes they take.

Generation Games has recently begun contributing to the Oxfordshire health bus, a travelling ‘fitness MOT’ service available in convenient locations around the county. The bus allows staff and volunteers at Generation Games to reach more rural communities, where loneliness and isolation amongst older people are often more pronounced. They are currently seeking more volunteers to advise people about improving their health and wellbeing from the health bus – contact their office if this is a cause close to your heart!; tel 01235 849403

Want to help? Donate your unneeded Winter Fuel Payment, or whatever you can, to our Surviving Winter appeal.