They’ve lost weight and boosted their health knowledge, but for Nowra’s veterans it’s the social connection they’ve gained that’s had the biggest impact.
Ten veterans have taken steps to better health over the past 12 months as part of the Veterans Heart Health Program run by Medicine in Motion.
With Veterans Health Week currently running from Saturday, October 22 to Sunday, October 30, veteran’s health is now in the spotlight.
This year’s theme is Social Connection and the week is an opportunity for veterans, war widows, widowers, current and ex-Australian Defence Force members and their families to participate, connect and influence the health and wellbeing of themselves and their friends.
At 81-years-old Geoffrey Edwards is the group's oldest participant and has enjoyed twice weekly exercise sessions and a weekly education session.
Mr Edwards’ blood pressure has dropped from 170 to 130 and he’s lost four kilograms but it’s the social aspect that’s had the greatest impact.
“I was in the Army for 15 years and this has brought everyone from the Army and the Navy together,” he said.
“We’ve all improved our health and fitness but even when we’re on the machines we’re having a bit of a gasbag.”
Wes Hindmarsh is another of the group’s participants and dropped seven kilograms after cutting one thing from his diet.
“The education sessions helped me realise that I needed to cut the sugar,” he said.
“I used to have big jam sandwiches but now I read the labels and my wife and I have both changed our diet at home.”
The program runs for 52 weeks and covers a range of topics including setting healthy goals, nutrition and healthy eating, physical activity, chronic conditions, quitting smoking, responsible alcohol consumption, back care, stress management and maintaining a healthy heart.
It’s offered to all eligible ex-servicemen and women.
With it about to come to an end, participants are now being sought for the next 12 month program.
Veteran Paul Folkes has just completed the program and encouraged all veterans to embrace it.
“It’s about preventative health and we’re hoping that Department of Veterans Affairs make it permanent because it’s far more cost effective than dealing with problems when it’s too late,” he said.
“Some of the guys in the program have actually thrown away their tablets for heart problems and blood pressure because they don’t need them anymore."
The program is also run in Vincentia and Medicine in Motion is now looking for new participants for groups in Kiama, Nowra, Vincentia and Ulladulla.
Anyone interested in the program is encouraged to contact Alex Stronach on 0433 637 934 or firstname.lastname@example.org