For older adults, going to the gym is about more than just physical exercise. As one of the populations most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, working out among their peers is also a doorway out of isolation and into renewed friendships and socialization.
Through Brock University’s SeniorFit program, offered by the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being, hundreds of Niagara residents 55 years and older are getting that much-needed physical and mental health boost while training in a safe environment. Located on Lockhart Drive in St. Catharines, the Centre offers a gym full of all types of workout equipment, one-on-one training, and both in-person and online fitness classes.
“Research shows exercise is good for the body and mind,” said Centre for Health and Well-Being Director Deborah O’Leary. “It allows for older adults to continue their daily activities and has shown to help with a number of mental health issues. And there’s a social aspect as well, which is also really important.”
Through a multi-year grant from TD Bank Group (TD), more resources will be committed to an important community resource with the goal of removing barriers and further promoting health and well-being among older adults.
“TD is proud to work with Brock University in promoting the physical, psychological and social well-being of seniors, a population disproportionately impacted by the ongoing pandemic,” said Amy Hanen, TD Associate Vice President, Social Impact Canada. “Through the TD Ready Commitment, the Bank’s global corporate citizenship platform, we’re focused on supporting innovative solutions like the SeniorFit program that will help increase access to health education, and early detection and intervention of cardiovascular and chronic conditions.”
The grant from TD will allow the Brock-Niagara Centre to expand its SeniorFit program across the Niagara region through satellite programs in a number of municipalities. By bringing the programming to the communities, the goal is to reduce the occurrences and severity of chronic conditions and other illnesses.
“It really puts the programming where people are and makes it much easier for seniors to access it,” said SeniorFit Director Kim Gammage. “This donation from TD is allowing us to do things we always wanted to do, but we wouldn’t have been able to do it without this funding.”
A full needs assessment will also be completed to identify other potential areas for growth, while a research project will be conducted to evaluate the positive impacts the Centre’s programs are having on its members.
The purpose and impact of the funding also aligns closely with Brock’s priority of enhancing the life and vitality of the community it is a part of.
“Brock University is deeply grateful for the support we have received in the past from TD and with this most recent contribution,” said Brock University Interim President Lynn Wells. “This is a great example of two organizations working together to achieve a common goal of helping improve the health of Canadians of all ages.”
In addition to the benefits provided to its members, the Centre as an important experiential learning space for students in Brock’s Kinesiology, Health Sciences, Therapeutic Recreation, Nursing and Gerontology programs. As many as 200 students work in the Centre’s various programs each year.
“The students get a lot of real-world experience, but the members thoroughly enjoy having the students here, so it’s really an inter-generational benefit,” said O’Leary. “Without the students here, it wouldn’t be the same. The members look forward to interacting with them every day.”
Faculty of Applied Health Sciences Dean Peter Tiidus said the multi-year commitment from TD means an exciting future for the Centre and specifically the SeniorFit program.
“This generous funding provides a secure foundation for what has become an important resource to the community,” he said. “It will allow us to grow the programming, which will benefit students, seniors and the Niagara community.”
For more information about the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being or its programs, visit brocku.ca/health-well-being
A video about TD’s support of the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being is available below: