It is important for older persons to exercise in order to keep physically fit and to keep chronic diseases at bay.
This is what Mbuyiselo Sijako, 66, of Thabong in Welkom in the Free State says, after participating in the Active Ageing Programme that was recently organised by the Department of Social Development.
The programme was part of the department’s basket of services and interventions to address a variety of challenges faced by older persons in Matjhabeng Local Municipality. The programme was in collaboration with the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and National Development Agency.
The Active Ageing Programme is an initiative of the department, in partnership with the South African Older Persons Forum (SAOPF). It aims to uphold the human rights of older persons and to respond to their developmental needs.
Its goal is to improve the quality of life of older persons, promote independence and participation in various social, cultural and sporting initiatives that seek to prevent and reduce old-age related diseases.
As a participant of the programme, Sijako says he sometimes walks about 10 kilometres to his nearest town just to keep fit, because he is no longer consistent with exercising as he was before.
“Growing up, I was a rugby player and an athlete, but due to aging, I had to stop. I can no longer run. I walk a lot and that keeps me active and it minimises my chances of getting sick,” says Sijako, who stays with his wife and two grandchildren.
He encourages other older persons to always make time to do simple in-house exercises in order to improve their health and well-being.
“Older people do not have much to do and they are always sending children everywhere to do things for them. This makes their muscles weak, so I really encourage them to exercise and stretch their muscles,” he says.