The innovative program Choose to Move will be offered to seniors by the Regional District of Nanaimo Recreation Department for free starting Sept. 20. - RDN photo

The innovative program Choose to Move will be offered to seniors by the Regional District of Nanaimo Recreation Department for free starting Sept. 20. - RDN photo

Seniors get extra pep in their step

New innovative program to be offered by RDN for free next month

An innovative program that motivates seniors to get up, get out, and get active is returning to Parksville Qualicum Beach next month.

Choose to Move is a six-month program based on scientific research that motivates and supports individuals 65 or older to get moving and meet new people in the community. It is free to join.

“Choose to Move is different from other programs because it offers both individual and group support for six months with a trained Activity Coach,” said Jennifer Hopewell, Recreation Programmer at the Regional District of Nanaimo, where Choose to Move is offered. “It is not a fitness class, so participants don’t have to go to the gym – instead they choose activities they like to do.”

This program is based on research from University of British Columbia’s Active Aging Research Team. It is designed to help seniors to set and meet their physical activity goals. Researchers observed while most British Columbian seniors were struggling to meet the recommended amount of weekly physical activity, few programs were actually helping in a sustainable way.

“One reason why this program seems to work is that it is choice-based. This means that participants set goals and choose activities that are of interest to them to help them achieve their goals,” explained Christa Hoy, one of the researchers. “With the support of their activity coach and peers, participants add more physical activity into their daily lives, which makes it easier to continue being active once the program is finished” Hoy added.

Choose to Move is designed for people who are not currently active, but want get moving. Participants work one-on-one with an activity coach to develop a personal plan that fits with their preferences and lifestyle.

The researchers will monitor Choose to Move across the province and evaluate its impact on health, mobility, and social connectedness of older adults.

Choose to Move is available with the Regional District of Nanaimo at Craig St. Commons in Parksville, beginning on Sept 20. An information session will be held Thursday, Sept. 6, 2:30-4 p.m. at Oceanside Place Arena. To register, visit www.rdn.bc.ca/recreation or call 250-248-3252 or 250-752-5014. — NEWS Staff/RDN submission

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