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Free supportive age and dementia-friendly exercise classes coming to Fenland this month

Specialist age and dementia-friendly chair-based exercise classes are being offered for free in Fenland.

Fenland District Council’s Active Fenland team has supported the training of several instructors to deliver the British Gymnastics Foundation Love to Move programme as part of a package of sessions to help people overcome barriers to physical activity.

The classes are being funded by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care Systems (ICS), and will take place in Chatteris and March.

A new group is starting in Fenland this month
A new group is starting in Fenland this month

Cllr Alex Miscandlon, the district council’s portfolio holder for sports development and leisure, said Active Fenland’s work is built around offering introductory sessions to encourage ongoing activity and behaviour change.

She said: “Building the habit of regular exercise into your life can be tough for anyone and many of the classes offered by Active Fenland have a specific focus on helping to make that as easy as possible.

“Our partnership project with ICS has already allowed Active Fenland to offer classes that help people build the courage to take the first steps to joining a gym and allow those with limited fitness access to friendly wellbeing walks and classes close to home.

“We will continue to build on the variety of classes, venues and times available to reach as many people as possible.”

Kit Connick, chief officer of partnerships and strategy at NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “We know that regular exercise can help us all stay well for longer as we age.

“It can also reduce the risk of developing serious illnesses that may need hospital treatment.

“This is why we are pleased to have provided funding to Fenland District Council for these new classes to give people the opportunity to improve their own physical and mental wellbeing in a relaxed and friendly environment.”

The new dementia-friendly Love to Move sessions incorporate chair-based activities set to music.

Public Health England figures show that Fenland has significantly higher rates of dementia than average across the country, possibly due to the higher-than-average age of the population.

A British Gymnastics Foundation spokesman said: “The benefits that Love to Move can bring to participants have a transforming effect on their lives.

“It helps to build strength, flexibility and coordination as well as improving memory and increasing engagement through socialisation.

“We are really excited to see sessions developing in Chatteris and March giving access to Love to Move for the residents of Fenland”.

Love to Move classes encourage independent movement of the left and right sides of the body to improve cognitive function, health and wellbeing, while allowing participants to move and have fun in a social environment.

Carers are asked to remain at the sessions and can either take part or take the chance to step back and enjoy a hot drink.

It is hoped the sessions may also create an opportunity for carers to chat and get to know each other.

People do not need to have dementia or be with someone who has dementia to attend the sessions.

Initial classes will launch this month in March and Chatteris. A first set of dates have been set running to December, and it is intended for more dates to be added in the New Year.

People do not need to book the classes, and can just turn up.

Love to Move class will be held from:

- 11am to 12.30pm Tuesdays, from November 21 to December 19, at March Braza Club.

- 11am to 12.30pm Thursdays, from November 23 to December 21, at King Edward Community Centre in Chatteris.

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