"Ageing gracefully" is a rare art mastered by only a few who celebrate their old age. For those senior citizens, who need someone to support them to find a meaning for life in the dusk of their glorious lives, an innovative programme has been launched in Kerala to increase their strength, balance and mobility along with relaxation techniques.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) Committee for Care of Older Persons, Kerala division launched the programme, called ‘Respire - A Balance of Life’ to help all elderly persons to stay healthy, active and independent. "This innovative exercise programme incorporates the knowledge of modern medicine alongside the Indian traditional martial art form of Kalaripayattu and healing system Yoga," IMA said in a statement.
'Respire' provides many health benefits such as boosting the immune system, preventing and managing conditions like the risk of heart disease, reducing blood pressure or diabetes, the IMA said. "It also helps in strengthening your muscles, reducing muscle loss, reducing overall pain and stiffness due to arthritis, maintaining joint function, increasing cardiovascular capacity, and reducing the frequency of falls due to loss of balance and posture," the statement says.
As an immediate action plan, the IMA said, its 'Respire' team aims to coach frontline health workers and gym instructors across Kerala so that they are well-equipped and certified to train the elder community and guide them in every step of their 'Respire' journey. The virtual launch of the programme was done by state Health Minister Veena George on 1 October, the International Day of Older Persons. The concept of 'Respire' was designed and developed by Dr Praveen Pai, Dr Vinod Padmanabhan from IMA Cochin in partnership with MAGICS, an NGO in Kerala and the entire project was coordinated by Arun S Nair with Yoga Master Raghunathan K C and Kalari Master Narayanan E S.
Dr M K Poulose, state chairman of the IMA committee, said that 'Respire' is a holistic exercise programme to promote an awareness of the body and mind and also to provide a sense of balance and harmony among the older generations in our country. With the covid-19 pandemic and widespread lockdown measures taking a huge toll on the physical and mental health of the elderly persons, such simple yet effective mindfulness and rejuvenation programmes would mitigate the effects to a large extent, IMA said.
Each of the 'Respire' experiential group programmes will be led by a team of qualified instructors to ensure a safe and supportive environment. These programmes will be tailored to specific needs and abilities through regular assessments. "Through these programmes, we aim to celebrate each and every older individual and turn their fleeting everyday experiences to everlasting inner strength and provide them an opportunity to grow old with dignity and make their lives more fruitful," the IMA said.