Senior citizens fight frailty in a quest to master tai chi

Senior citizens fight frailty in a quest to master tai chi


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Senior citizens in Katherine are looking forward to mastering the art of tai chi.

Senior citizens in Katherine are looking forward to mastering the art of tai chi.

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At 84 years old, Jillian Hagger can't quite keep up with Zumba - a dance cardio workout to fast paced music.

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At 84 years old, Jillian Hagger can't quite keep up with Zumba - a dance cardio workout to fast paced music.

It is offered at the YMCA, and is one of a few activities a senior citizen in Katherine can get involved in.

The other is water aerobics, but during the dry season months, the pool is far too cold.

As she has grown older, she said she has found it harder and harder to find suitable activities to fight frailty.

She is the secretary of the Katherine Senior Citizens Association, and at their weekly meeting today over tea and scones, the bunch collectively agreed it was very important to stay active heading into old age.

But their days of little physical exercise are coming to an end.

The group has been successful in securing funding to bring tai chi training to Katherine, and they are pretty excited.

"I miss roosting up my body," Mrs Hagger said.

"I was a reasonably active person, I played a lot of tennis, but at my age not all my joints work like you want them to."

Recently, she broke her hip coming down a set of stairs, and has since relied heavily on a walking stick to get around.

Secretary of the Katherine Senior Citizens Association, Jillian Hagger, might have broken her hip, but she is looking forward to the rush of endorphins which come from physical activity.

Secretary of the Katherine Senior Citizens Association, Jillian Hagger, might have broken her hip, but she is looking forward to the rush of endorphins which come from physical activity.

She is part of an age group linked closely to far reaching consequences from what some might think of as a relatively harmless fall.

Tai chi, a Chinese martial art, is not only an effective tool to improve balance, it reduces stress and improves cognition and mobility.

"I first saw the movements on T.V and thought they were very graceful. I could see there would be benefits," Mrs Hagger said.

"There is no pressure, it is not like Zumba - I couldn't keep up with that, it is too fast and too jumpy.

"Tai chi is a gentle exercise."

Leading the campaign to secure funding was Lori Martin, a member of the senior citizens association with her own set of health conditions.

"For people with varying health conditions and old age [tai chi] is the best exercise program for them.

"For some people like myself, we just can't do other exercises. I can't do yoga or aqua aerobics - if it is cold in the pool and I jump in it takes my breath away," she said.

The Australian Tai Chi Institute's master trainer, Cheryl Lee Player will be traveling to Katherine to deliver trainer training at the end of this month.

Ms Martin will be part of eight or so senior citizens who will be learning the movements to become instructors able to hold their own regular classes.

"It is an ideal exercise program for those that are chronically unwell or just out of hospital. It is a very gentle, rhythmic activity to get involved in," Ms Martin said.

"We have a lot of senior citizens in Katherine, and this will be right up their alley."

COTA NT's CEO Sue Shearer, Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson and Kate Ganley have been key players in supporting Katherine's seniors in accessing tai chi.

"At COTA NT, we believe in active and fulfilling senior years," Ms Shearer said.

"We know the importance of keeping our bodies moving and getting people together to socialise and to exercise.

"We are so pleased to be able to support access to this training in Katherine, so the community can benefit from a pool of qualified instructors, ensuring that tai chi can be practiced in Katherine for years to come."

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The story Senior citizens fight frailty in a quest to master tai chi first appeared on Katherine Times.

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