Pazit Levenger: moving and shaking

Associate Professor Pazit Levinger could be called a mover and shaker when it comes to her research. She is one of Australia’s leading researchers working on finding ways to encourage older people to become physically active.

Associate Professor Levinger moved to Australia from Israel over a decade ago to undertake a PhD in exercise science and human movement, and she has never looked back.

“Currently my work is heavily focused on how we can create outdoor spaces  for older people. This is absolutely linked with the concept of age-friendly communities. The concept is well known but not put into practice enough,” Associate Professor Levinger said.

She recently joined NARI where she has been working on a program called Exercise interveNtion outdoor proJect in the cOmmunitY. The ENJOY project has been funded by Gandel Philanthropy, the Jack Brockhoff Foundation and State Trustees Australian Foundation.

The project is trialling senior exercise parks in collaboration with Whittlesea City Council, Wyndham City Council, and shortly with Old Colonists Association of Victoria. The park uses outdoor exercise equipment, provided by Lark Industries, which have stations specifically designed for older people to improve strength, balance, joint movements, mobility and function.

“Only 25% of older people in Australia meet the recommended physical activity guidelines.  The senior exercise park is about putting fun back into physical activity and at the same time improve older people’s balance and strengthen their muscles,” she said.

“I really like working with older people, I find them wise and grateful. I enjoy my work very much, I find it very rewarding knowing that my research work is making a positive impact on older people. There is so much more still we can do,” Associate Professor Levinger said.

She is particularly interested in bringing in older people from CALD backgrounds into her research.

“Australia has such a diverse culture, it is imperative that we cater for the diversity. People have different cultural needs and we need to be able to accommodate for it,” she said.

For her, the role of technology will become more important in medical research, and with that comes many opportunities.

“Research becomes more complex and innovative so I see great innovation with industry (engineering), academia and community collaborating to find solutions,” Associate Professor Levinger said.

“For my research, the future is looking great as we move towards setting up great urban and rural designs for age friendly cities that are suitable to people of all ages and backgrounds.”