SIEL BLEU AND MEN’S SHEDS
“I never thought such simple exercises could be so effective”
It’s 12:30 on a Wednesday afternoon in Holywell Community Centre, Swords and twelve members of the Swords Men’s Shed have gathered for their weekly meeting. In walks Michelle in her bright blue t-shirt carrying a large equipment bag and she’s greeted with smiles and handshakes from all the men. Michelle is a qualified Siel Bleu Ireland Physical Trainer and over the course of the next hour, she will guide the men through a course of physical activity specifically designed just for them.
They begin, seated in a circle, with a full body warm up from head to toe. When everyone’s warmed up, that’s when the real work starts. Based on research into the importance of physical activity for men, Michelle has designed a full body workout for the Swords Men’s Shed, with a mix of cardiovascular and resistance/strength exercises. They do squats, leg raises, shoulder presses and even some games to name a few, utilising a range of equipment exclusive to Siel Bleu.
Designed for the Individual
While there are some younger members, the group mainly comprises of men are in their 60s and the majority have retired. The World Health Organisation’s guidelines suggest that older men should undertake at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days per week, with at least 2 of those days including resistance training for the major muscle groups. However it can be difficult for older men to gain access to exercise programmes which can be typically female focused. Siel Bleu’s classes with the Men’s Sheds offer an avenue for men to learn about the importance of exercise and to practice physical activity with the guidance of a professional trainer in the comfort of their own shed. The programmes are simple but effective and can easily be replicated at home.
“Before this class I did very little exercise, work seemed to take up most of my time,” says Ronnie, a member of the Swords Men’s Shed, “ Siel Bleu is very good introduction for someone who might not have a large amount of exercise experience in the past. It’s holistic in the fact that it covers a lot of areas of exercise at a pace and level that’s really enjoyable.” Siel Bleu Ireland only hires physical trainers with a degree in a sporting/physical discipline and they are then trained to the Siel Bleu standards. The physical trainers use their expertise to find activities that the participants will enjoy while being effective, such as boxing, which is very popular with the Swords Shed.
Benefits of Physical Activity
The benefits of exercise for older men cannot be underestimated. Men who are active have lower risk of developing heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, dementia and depression which is a significant issue for men in Ireland. Through exercise, older men can retain and build muscle strength as well as improving flexibility which can all lend themselves to helping men keep their independence. While the physical benefits are important, the group camaraderie and banter has a huge impact on the men’s state of mind.
“In the last 6 months, since I’ve started this class, I’ve seen a major change,” continued Ronnie, “Even a change in my attitude, I want to do more things, I’m better at getting up in the morning and I always look forward to the weekly exercise classes”.
Siel Bleu Ireland is a leading exercise non-profit organisation who deliver life enhancing exercise classes to older adults and adults living with chronic disease. Established in 2010, Siel Bleu Ireland works with over 4000 people per week in 20 counties. Since 2015, Siel Bleu Ireland has been partnering with The Irish Men’s Sheds Association through the Shedders for Life initiative, to make exercise accessible to the members of the sheds. Siel Bleu programmes are now available in Ratoath, Broomfield and Swords Men’s Sheds with a further three groups starting in the coming weeks.