Netball NSW and the NSW Department of Family and Community Services have joined forces to deliver a free program aimed to encourage older community members to stay active.
Walking netball modifies the sport to remove barriers to participation, so all ages can experience the sport’s health and social benefits.
Netball NSW participation officer Shohan Khan explained it was a slower version of the game for all fitness levels and put the focus on fun, camaraderie and socialisation.
Newcastle is one of several locations around the state where the eight-week free pilot program is being run.
It started last month and is being run every Monday at 10am at the National Park netball courts on Union Street in Newcastle.
The last session will be on December 3 and there is no commitment to do every one.
Mr Khan said there were two forms of walking netball being rolled out. One is an exercise class variation of netball, which is the session being held weekly in Newcastle.
It is a 60-minute class, including a gentle warm-up, some low intensity cardiovascular fitness, strength work, balancing and stretching followed by some netball drills and a mini game.
“The second version we see rolling out from 2019 onwards would be the social competition variation of it, where people register a team and compete for fun,” Mr Khan said.
“This version of netball allows a lot of ex-netballers to come back to the court as well as new people trying the sport for the first time at a low intensity.
“We haven’t put an age limit on it. We’ve seen in some of our pilots, mothers, daughters and grandmothers taking the court together.”
He said the idea was that the pilot program was for older Australians but it was open to anyone over the age of 10.
“We see the exercise class variation as an opportunity for older Australians to meet people in the area and maybe have a coffee together after the class,” he said.
“Anyone can join at any point of the eight weeks and we don’t expect people to be there for the entire duration either. We’ve made it quite flexible.
“They can just turn up on the day and we can sort out a registration or the best way to do it would be to jump on our website and they can book straight into the Newcastle class there.”
For more information on walking netball, go to www.playwalkingnetball.com.au.
The hope is that the program will eventually expand from statewide to nationwide.
Meanwhile, there are some guidelines and tips and ideas for older Australians to stay active through www.health.gov.au.
According to the Australian Government Department of Health, the kind of activity people over the age of 65 should be doing is:
“Moderate activities – for your heart, lungs and blood vessels; strength activities – to help maintain bone strength; flexibility activities – to help you move more easily; balancing activities – to improve your balance and help prevent falls.”
Upcoming Fitness Events
Variety Santa Fun Run, Newcastle, December 2: This event returns with a new look. There are 5km and 10km courses, starting from Dixon Park and Market Street lawns respectively and finishing harbourside.
Maximum Adventure Race Series, Lake Macquarie, February 16: The first event of the series, competitors team up for some mountain biking, trail running and kayaking. Novice and classic courses.
NewRun 2019, Newcastle, April 7: A good longer-term goal. It is around five months away, giving you plenty of time to build up to one of the distances on offer, including 5km, 10km and 21.1km.
Spring Sessions Week #10
This session combines strength and cardio. Combining the two is a good way to improve both areas in one session if you are time poor. If starting out, do it three times a week and walk on the other days.
Set 1: 10 minutes strength. 3 x [1min squats with alternating single-arm shoulder press, 1min push-ups, 1min rows], 1min rest.
Set 2: 10min cardio. 10min x [20 seconds hard run, 20sec walk]
Set 3: 10min strength. 3 x [1min dead lifts, 1min lunges, 1min opposing arm and leg raises/hover], 1min rest.
Set 4: 10min cardio. Repeat set 2 or try 5 x [1min hard run, 1min walk]
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Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.