Matt Swiss and Lewis Todd recently worked with residents from Field House in Botley on a fitness improvement study. Part of the Sovereign Housing Association, Field House offers supported living accommodation for older people.
The two degree learners, who are studying for BSc in Sports coaching, fitness and rehabilitation, supported five residents aged from 68 to 92 through an exercise programme that started and finished with a range of fitness tests and an assessment of their independent living skills. These included analysing hand grip strength, aerobic capacity using a six minute walk, and sit and stand tests.
The resulting evidence showed a marked improvement in a range of the tested variables and Matt and Lewis are writing up their findings for a journal article.
Lewis says: “For my programme, we wanted to get them from being very sedentary to a more active lifestyle.
“It was a variation of strength-based exercises, some endurance work, whether that was standing up and sitting down in a chair for multiple repetitions or walking up and down stairs…it was a case of doing a mixture of exercises that would strengthen their bodies and build a psychological picture in their head that they could do it.
“When we weren’t there they wanted to carry on with it as they saw the impact it was having on them, so it made them a bit more confident in themselves. It’s been nice to hear that it had some impact.
Matt adds:” We adapted a few of our own exercises as well. We used a tennis ball for grip strength, we used bands for upper-limb exercises and I also did a questionnaire so I could see their progression over the weeks.
“After we started, other residents started to join in as well. We couldn’t collect their data, but we let them join in the exercises. They all enjoyed it and wanted us back.”
Module leader Ben Wright expressed the importance of learners gaining work experience within their studies, stating: ''Matt and Lewis have been able to apply the theoretical knowledge gained during lectures and apply this knowledge to real-world settings. This not only allows our learners to be exposed to applied environments, it also enhances their employability.''