20 April 2021

Research News 

New Seniors Exercise Parks have opened at Ivanhoe Park, Ivanhoe, and Mount Pleasant Reserve, Ballarat – the first in regional Victoria.

The Parks are part of NARI’s ENJOY Map for Health research program, which evaluates the effects of sustained physical activity on mental and physical health of older people.

NARI Director Professor Briony Dow said, “Our research confirms the ENJOY program does make a difference to the health and wellbeing of older people. Not only is it a benefit in terms of strength, balance and cardiovascular fitness, it’s also good for people’s mental health and social connection.”

“The ENJOY program is a great illustration of practical and applied research making a difference to people’s lives, and ensuring older people in the community are included, respected and encouraged to be healthy,” said Professor Dow.

"Both Parks are next to children’s exercise playgrounds and this is very important for intergenerational connection,” she said. “It is Councils’ commitment to intergenerational activities and really promoting the wellbeing of older people, that enables parks like this to be established.”

The Seniors Exercise Parks will assist older people to improve their strength, balance, joint movements, mobility and function. They deliberately feature unstable surfaces to challenge balance and promote core strength.

Several older people in the Ballarat and Ivanhoe communities have been trained as exercise ambassadors, and will mentor other older people on how to use the equipment.

“It’s been fantastic to see enthusiastic age-friendly ambassadors using the equipment and willing to support others,” says Professor Dow. “They play such an important role in encouraging and enabling others in their community to use the Parks.”

NARI will also offer equipment training to allied health professionals and exercise instructors so they can incorporate the Seniors Exercise Park in their work with older adults.

This project is a partnership between Banyule City Council, the City of Ballarat and the National Ageing Research Institute funded through the State Trustees Foundation of Australia.  NARI also thanks Lark Industries, Parks and Leisure Australia (Vic/Tas) and Curve Tomorrow for their support.

The creation of sustainable, age-friendly spaces such as Seniors Exercise Parks is only possible through collaboration and partnership.  NARI is keen to extend the ENJOY program to multiple municipalities and welcomes discussions with interested councils and philanthropic organisations.

Read more about the ENJOY Map for Health program