On the 15th DecemberLiving Longer Living Stronger™ will be exactly 20 years old!
Over that time, the program has served thousands of older Victorians, keeping them strong and enabling them to continue doing the things that they love for longer.
There have been many twists and turns over the past 20 years. If you have been involved with the program you just might enjoy a walk (or jog!) down memory lane!
Living Longer Living Stronger™ evolved off the back of some groundbreaking research around improving health and wellbeing benefits of older adults engaged in weight training. 20 years ago, the local gymnasium was a haunt for the young and Lycra-clad. Many older adults did not feel welcome and the national trends pointed to older adults becoming significantly more sedentary.
Sue Hendy, former CEO of COTA Victoria, aimed to change this and looked overseas for program examples that paired older adults with weight training. Taking into consideration the basic training principles of strength overload (this is an industry term that simply means, we get stronger when we increase weights over time, or vary the type of exercise).
Our muscles get stronger when a moderate amount of stress is applied, and it is not the prerogative of the young to enjoy the benefits of strength training!
Here are some practical examples of what weight training can do for you:
- strengthen bones – which can mean the difference between breaking a hip (or not) when taking a fall
- improve range of movement – meaning an improved golf or tennis swing
- increase metabolic rate – resting muscle mass consumes calories, which means weight loss
- improve posture and general aches and pains
- improve mental health
- improve most chronic condition outcomes.
The research also shared the principles that encouraged older adults to join and to stay committed to the program. The social aspect of the Living Longer Living Stronger program is as integral as the weight and balance specific exercises. Our program is designed around enjoying the program in a group setting, even if each participant is working on a slightly different program designed for their specific needs.
The hard work is rewarded with a cuppa afterwards. Birthdays are celebrated and social outings are planned.
In early 2019, Victoria was one of the states that received significant funding to update the program and work with some of the other states who had been delivering the same program under the brand Strength for Life.
Some of these updates included working with exercise physiologists and physiotherapists for those with some tricky chronic conditions. And we trialled a rebranding across the state.
However, when COVID hit in early 2020, the effects were keenly felt in Victoria. Responding to the demands of those home-bound and unable to visit the gym, we created a version of the program that was delivered online. As many Victorians become fluent with Zoom, they were soon enjoying both the physical and social benefits of our much loved program.
As 2020 draws to a close and the funding for the converting of Living Longer Living Stronger™ program into the Strength for Life brand runs out, we in Victoria have had to look hard at what serves our communities best.
Strength for Life is a trademark that dictates that the program cannot be delivered online and adheres to some strict guidelines on how the program is administered.
Our Living Longer Living Stronger™ program has served our communities in both regional and metro Victoria well over the last 20 years. Through the Sport Australia funding over the last two years, we have been able to introduce the Tier 1 (physiotherapists and exercise physiologists) and Tier 2 providers (exercise professionals) and provide better programming for those with one or more chronic conditions. We have also been able to update the training program for those instructors who deliver exercise to older adults.
However, we want to keep our online option as it is a great convenience for many. Online access works for both those who have trouble finding a park, to those who in regional Victoria who live too far to attend in person.
And we want to keep our name. A nod to the success of the last 20 years.
So as of 2021, we will be returning to the name Living Longer Living Stronger™!
We hope that you will like the new branding, which has strong links to the COTA logo, and will include an online option for those who prefer or find they are unable to attend in person.
What hasn’t changed is our commitment to our three values:
- Our program adheres to the principles that improve strength and balance.
- Strong social interactions are as important as strong bodies.
- Affordably priced.
Welcome to the next 20 years!