Otago falls prevention classes

The Otago Exercise Programme was designed by the University of Otago Medical School, New Zealand, specifically to prevent falls in older people. It consists of a set of leg muscle strengthening and balance retraining exercises progressing in difficulty, and a walking plan.

If you are interested in Otago, why not talk to your local Well-being Advisor or Gym Instructor? Contact your local ExtraCare Village or Scheme here

Every ExtraCare Gym Instructor has been trained in giving the classes, and will be able to offer you some advice and help.

Chris, the Gym Instructor at Lark Hill Village, invited us along to one of his Otago classes to find out more…

The classes at Lark Hill have been running for just over a year now. Although the Otago programme can be delivered in a 12-week course, Chris prefers to keep the class going on a regular basis.

He runs two classes each week, Mondays and Fridays. Each class can last for about half an hour, although now that the group know the exercises so well, sessions are often quicker.

Chris explains that he has a group of regulars who come along to most of the classes – to keep them progressing, he is planning to introduce ankle weights for some of the existing exercises soon.

“I gave a talk in a street meeting to advertise the classes, and we got a lot of people coming along after that. The Well-being Advisor also refers people, and we do find that people who come to the classes recommend them to others as well.

“I think it’s making a real difference.”

Each half-hour class, held in the Village hall, follows a similar format.

There are some seated and some standing exercises. For those worried about their balance or the ability to stand, even the standing exercises take place around a chair that participants can hold for support.

Exercises can include:

Residents who attend the classes say that most of them come because they’ve had concerns about their balance in the past. One said that she was there because she has Parkinson’s disease and the class was more suited to her than those recommended by the hospital.

They were all agreed – while they knew the exercises and could do them in their own homes, they’d rather come to the class for the atmosphere and the accountability!

Peter Deaton has peripheral neuropathy, which has led to nerve damage in his feet. He started attending Otago classes at the Nottingham retirement village a year ago. Read Peter's story!