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New program to help older residents in regional communities to stay active

The Outback Active Program is run by Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Southern Cross Care.
The Outback Active Program is run by Charles Darwin University (CDU) and Southern Cross Care.

A new online fitness program will support the health of ageing residents in the Katherine region while giving Charles Darwin University (CDU) students invaluable placement opportunities. 

The Outback Active Program, co-led by CDU and Southern Cross Care (SA, NT & Vic) , and funded by the Northern Territory Primary Health Network (NT PHN), is a new free TeleFit program for people 65 years+ and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders 50+ years living in the Katherine region.

The 12-week program is tailor made for participants and can be completed wholly online, with the first four sessions delivered by an exercise physiologist and the remaining either by an exercise scientist or a CDU exercise and sports science student completing a supervised placement. 

CDU Exercise and Sports Science Lecturer and Course Co-ordinator Dr Clare Quinlan said the program aimed to improve participants’ strength, fitness and wellbeing. 

“Promoting health and fitness is important across the entire lifespan however as we are facing a continually ageing population, healthy ageing in older adults is particularly important,” Dr Quinlan said. 

“We know that those who engage in regular physical activity or exercise are more likely to remain mobile and independent for longer, have lower risks of chronic diseases, lower risk of falls, and less presentations to health services. 

“Having a healthy ageing population is going to be particularly important in helping to sustain quality of life and reduce the potential burden on the health care system of the ageing population.” 

Southern Cross Care Group Manager - Research & Development Dr Tim Henwood hoped the program would help create a healthier Katherine community. 

“Access to regular exercise that is prescribed specific to the users’ needs and goals, and that brings meaningful benefits, is difficult outside of metropolitan areas,” Dr Henwood said. 

“Outback Active overcomes this by leveraging technology to deliver evidence-based exercise sessions to people in the Katherine region. 

“From the program that has informed Outback Active, Better for Life in Country South Australia, not only have participants increased their physical health and wellbeing but testimonials also report on the social engagement and enjoyment they have had with participation.”

Dr Quinlan said the placements would provide students opportunities to connect with the community, develop their skills and prepare for the future of patient delivery.

“Engaging students with NT clients and communities provides rich placements for students and prepares the future workforce for NT-specific practice,” she said. 

“Due to the cost associated with a placement in regions of the NT for many of our interstate students, these experiences are often overlooked. 

“However, by delivering a placement via TeleFit our students will be able to engage with these clients without the associated costs, providing diverse and meaningful placements with a greatly reduced risk of placement poverty.”

Outback Active will be intaking the first participants from January to March 2024 and includes a check-in six months after completion. Support will be available for participants not confident in using technology or who have limited access to devices. 

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