At a glance
The Challenge: Faced with a rapidly ageing population, with many that were comfortable with a sedentary lifestyle, there was a need to empower our seniors to be more physically active. The Committee for Seniors for Physical Activity (SPA) chaired by Minister Heng Chee How ,together with multiple agencies, sought to build capability and capacity in the community to promote physical activity for seniors.
The Solution: ProAge was invited to provide consultancy for the implementation framework. This included providing scope for the national campaign, develop resource materials, deliver training and defining evaluation criteria to quantify the success of the campaign.
The Results: A total of approximately 3,500 brisk walking leaders were trained using materials and resources developed by ProAge. 3 years after the implementation of the project, there were more than 100,000 people participating in brisk walking on a regular basis.
A 2005 survey conducted by the Singapore Sports Council revealed that 6 in 10 seniors aged 55 years and above were leading a sedentary lifestyle in the three months preceding the survey. An active lifestyle involving physical exercise improves fitness, one's general well-being and quality of life. Healthy individuals spend less time and money on medical treatment. This benefits them and the society as a whole. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, results in completely different outcomes. There was an urgent need for the government to do more to empower seniors to be physically active.
SPA chaired by Minister Heng Chee How focused on building capability and capacity in the community to promote physical activity for seniors. They strategically brought together multiple agencies, including the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, People's Association, the Community Development Councils, Health Promotion Board, the Council for Third Age, Sports Council, Housing Development Board and the National Parks Board, so that the platforms developed would be well integrated and community-based.
Three criteria for the selection of senior health activities:
1.Scientific evidence that the activity leads to concrete health outcomes when done properly and regularly.
2. Easy to join, low cost, not hard to learn, have a local following and be scalable.
3. Provide opportunities for seniors to make friends and join social networks.
- Minister Heng Chee How
ProAge provided a 5 months on-demand consultancy to establish the overview of the national campaign and the framework for implementation. This framework was broken down into development, training and evaluation phases.
Special care was taken by consultants at ProAge to propose a comprehensive training framework that sought to train 2,500 leaders in 3 years on a national scale.
CUSTOMISED BRISK WALKING WORKOUT
One of the exciting portion of this project was the development of a brand new workout. The technical expertise needed was complex, however the team at ProAge took up the challenge to choreograph the new national warm-up and cool-down routine.
Health Promotion Board's representatives had observed that many in the community were not meeting the desired physical intensity during brisk walking. Thus, ProAge aimed to provide warm-up routines that have been proven to be scientifically beneficial, even before participants started on the brisk walking routine.
Our team leveraged on our in-house knowledge on gerontology and exercise physiology to design the workout. The exercises were created to target specific muscle groups to ensure maximum health benefits for seniors.
To enhance motivation during each session, music with a locally inspired tune was incorporated into every workout. A key feature was the inclusion of voice-prompts with instructional movement cues for accurate movement and maximising the benefits of the exercises. This age-friendly design ensured that senior brisk walking leaders leading the warm-up and cool-down routines had cues to guide them in leading the workout.
COMPLETE SET OF RESOURCE MATERIALS
We developed a customised set of resource materials to enhance the capability of the
brisk walking leaders in educating other participants. ProAge developed training manuals, lesson plans, provided frameworks for the regular implementation of brisk walking and how to make it scalable through the brisk walking club concept.
Overview of bilingual resource set developed for the National Brisk Walking Campaign:
- Production of Audio CD for Warm-up & Cool Down routine
- Development of Training manual – “Brisk Walking Resource Guide for Exercise Leaders”
- Development & Production of DVD – “Briskwalk to Health”
- Development of Quick Guide – “Your Quick Guide to Brisk Walking”
- Development of content for educational booklet for public – “Brisk Walk – Let’s Brisk Walk and Let’s Get Active – Your Guide to Physical Activity”
INTERACTIVE AGE FRIENDLY TRAINING
In the same year, the ProAge team spearheaded a 3-year national training initiative for 2,500 exercise leaders in the community by working with the four Community Development Councils.
In-line with every ProAge session, learning was made extremely interactive and practical. We employed adult learning methodologies that catered to community seniors with and without literacy. Utilising the resources developed, our facilitators were also there to teach in multiple languages to ensure that everyone gained a thorough understanding of the training materials.
In April 2009, there were just 275 brisk walking clubs, with 59,000 members. By 2012, 100,000 people had signed up as members of 700 brisk walking clubs in Singapore.
A total of 3,500 brisk walking leaders were trained in the community with representatives from all parts of Singapore.
The National Brisk Walking programme has contributed to the nation's health. A recent study conducted by HPB has shown that those taking part in the National Brisk Walking programme are 8 per cent fitter than the average Singaporean from the same demographic.
1. MSF Speech No.: 05/2010
2. CNA news article: Title: Brisk walking clubs aim to recruit 100,000 members in 3 years