When Rafael Villaneuva read about a call for participants to join research into the effect of physical activity on older adults at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, he did not think twice.
“I recognised that INDIGO could be the help that I needed for my memory concerns, give me the motivation to exercise, and provide me with a little way of giving back to the community,” he said.
Exercise had not previously been a high priority for Rafael, mainly because he had found it hard to make time for physical activity. At best, he played tenpin bowling four times at year.
Today, after completing INDIGO, Rafael walks 30 minutes each weekday. His physical health has improved, as has his memory.
For him the kickstarter into this new regimen has been the involvement of both NARI researchers and his mentor, Janne Morrison.
“Her commitment to stay fit and keep healthy was a great motivator,” he said.
Janne, in her “sizzling sixties” has always been active, walking regularly, particularly with her dog. Since retiring, she has taken part in aqua aerobics, Zumba, spinning and various strength training classes for older adults at the local gym and also bike riding for pleasure on bike and rail trails.
“Having a mentor was important because early on I was consciously doing my exercises for the purpose of being able to make a ‘success’ report to her,” said Rafael.
His exercise choice included brisk walking and stretches three times a week, which was part of the program. He added in walking up five flights of stairs and walking across the University of Melbourne campus to pick up a newspaper.
“Switching to an active life took a lot of effort and determination,” he reflects.
Both Rafael and Janne acknowledge the important role that NARI researchers played during the program.
“Knowing that Jenny Southam was there to answer questions was a bonus. Her calm demeanour and considerable knowledge in this area made the INDIGO program a wonderful initiative. Kay Cox's follow up telephone calls from Perth further enhanced this experience for me as it was nice to know that a Professor in Perth was so interested and active as a lead researcher in this INDIGO program,” Janne said.
“I think research in these areas is such a valuable activity and enables researchers to further their knowledge to improve community health,” she added.