15 Oct 2018
A free fitness program championed by Olympian Jane Flemming is helping people not only lose weight and get fit, but combat worrying levels of social isolation in our suburbs.
New figures from the Live Life Get Active (LLGA) community fitness program reveal an epidemic of loneliness across Australia, with about 12 per cent of new members of Frasers Property Australia sponsored community fitness camps saying they don’t have any friends or family to rely on during challenging times.
Those attending the LLGA camp at Fairwater Park in Blacktown (NSW) were most likely to suffer from loneliness when they first signed up (17 per cent), while North Coogee (WA) members were the most connected, with 8 per cent saying they had no support network.
The latest figures, based on LLGA sessions run in partnership with Frasers Property Australia, show 7,730 participants were registered across 22 programs sponsored by the property developer in the 2017-18 financial year, taking part in a mix of free fitness classes like yoga, boxing and cross training.
They show staggering rates of weight loss, with an average of 264 kilograms lost at each camp.
Ms Flemming says the results highlight the importance of the camps to not just boost health and fitness levels, but to connect people with their neighbours and form new friendships due to an “epidemic” of loneliness.
“Our results show that more than one in ten people don’t have a network of support if something were to go wrong and feel like there’s no one they can call on. That’s really sad,” she says.
“That’s why building community through these camps is so important. What we are doing in these free group workout sessions is not just exercise. It becomes social, people make friends, they have a reason to go back and it becomes enjoyable.
“And there’s enough variety in the classes that people can find something they like.”
The end of year results show the majority of participants were female (85 per cent) with 38 the average age. Nearly one in three (30 per cent) had an increased risk of serious health issues and 13 per cent were diagnosed with depression.
But Ms Flemming says the program is turning people’s mental and physical health around, which was reflected in surveys the participants undertook to self-assess their mood after attending the camps.
On average, people rated their mood as 7 out of 10, demonstrating the impact regular exercise and socialising was having on mood.
Key findings in the past year include:
72.75 metres of waist circumference lost
5,800 kilograms of weight lost
Chippendale Green in Sydney boasts the highest number of members (909)
More than half (53 per cent) of participants are at high risk of contracting type 2 diabetes
“People are sitting more in front of screens, having high fat, high sugar food delivered, and it’s really easy to park everywhere in Australia. Workers send an email instead of walking to a colleague’s desk or office. There’s very little incidental exercise in people’s lives now. All these behavioural changes are adding to our health crisis,” Ms Flemming says.
“This is not new, but we desperately need to move more. Figures show that high levels of incidental exercise are way more helpful to our health outcomes than going to the gym for half an hour.
People just need to get to the stage where they are incorporating that into their everyday life.”
She says the LLGA camps remove many of the barriers to exercise as they are free and set in a non-threatening environment with people of all fitness levels. This is proving extremely encouraging to women.
Tod O’Dwyer, General Manager - Development and Design, Frasers Property Australia, says the figures reinforce the company’s focus on building healthy communities.
“Despite the fact we are more connected than ever before, the Live Life Get Active member results show more than one in 10 people are lonely,” Mr O’Dwyer says.
“That’s why our investment in initiatives like Live Life Get Active are so important. These fitness camps are an investment in social capital, and the long-term health and wellbeing of our residents.
“Live Life Get Active offers an opportunity for community members to meet, socialise and exercise with others, including those who don’t live in a Frasers Property community. The obvious benefits are health and wellbeing, but this is underpinned by an increased level of social cohesion.”
The free fitness camps are open to anyone in and around Frasers Property’s communities, including residents, their families and friends, neighbours and the company’s own staff. The camps are typically held on the green spaces in the communities or in nearby parks.
Live Life Get Active is a private social initiative that, with the financial support of local governments and companies like Frasers Property, provides free and simple health, fitness and nutritional education both online and in active camps held in parks, suburbs and cities across Australia.
For further information about the Live Life Get Active program and to get involved, visit www.livelifegetactive.com.