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Sports Governing Bodies Launch New Scheme To Beat Older Adult Inactivity And Loneliness With Fun And Games

By March 22, 2018March 23rd, 2018No Comments

Oomph! are partnering with professional bodies for volleyball, weightlifting, orienteering and boccia to bring healthy competition to over 55s.

The national governing bodies for volleyball, weight lifting, orienteering and boccia are today launching revamped versions of their games to attract over 55s to sport thanks to a ground-breaking partnership with Oomph!.

We aim to tackle inactivity and loneliness with our national plan to get 27,000 older adults doing regular, fun exercise within two years. Training is already well underway for workers and volunteers in venues catering for independent older adults such as retirement villages and housing associations – equipping them with the skills, knowledge and adapted equipment to run sports classes with an element of healthy competition. Venues from Lancashire to Hertfordshire will start running modified sports classes this week.

All activities have been designed to be run by instructors, who will undergo comprehensive training from Oomph!, and without expensive regulation equipment and facilities. Volleyball England has approved a fabric covered inflatable ball and bunting in place of an official net; British Weight Lifting has designed resistance exercises using foam pool noodles and recommends the use of everyday objects such as water bottles as hand weights; British Orienteering is helping venues to create walking (or marching) courses which use post boxes and other local landmarks as checkpoints and Boccia England has taken the principles of a Paralympic sport and modified them for older adult settings, for example by suggesting the use of bean bags in place of specialist bowling balls. Other sports’ National Governing Bodies are now in discussions with Oomph! about versioning their games for this growing demographic.

Ben Allen, CEO of Oomph! said, “By ‘gamifying’ exercise for older adults we’re making it fun and sociable rather than functional. We already use sports rather than pure exercise to motivate previously reluctant participants to join our classes on a regular basis. However, this new combination of Oomph!’s expertise with the appeal and competitive edge of professional sports bodies, is game-changing.”

Peter Hart, CEO of British Orienteering commented, “At British Orienteering we are proud to be a sport that encompasses a wide age group, we have active members in their 90s, but working with Oomph! is the first time we have adapted many of our introductory activities to work with inactive older adults. It’s my belief that orienteering can offer older adults a fantastic mix of physical and mental exercise by adapting the challenge to suit their abilities.”

Gillian Harrison, Technical and Talent Coordinator at Volleyball England commented, “We are always keen for people to join the volleyball family because we know that everyone can get involved and benefit socially and physically – volleyball is the sport for everybody. Sitting Volleyball is one of the disciplines of volleyball which is already popular and a great chance for players with and without a disability to play together. So, we jumped at the chance to work with the experts at Oomph! to provide an adapted form of the game for the older age group. Their knowledge of how older adults could benefit from an active lifestyle made it easy to develop the concept of armchair volleyball.”

Zoe Metcalfe Head of Workforce at British Weight Lifting commented, “British Weight Lifting is delighted to partner with Oomph! on this exciting new initiative. This is the first time that weight lifting has been adapted to this age group and we have developed an innovative programme that is engaging and fun.”

Among the first providers to run Oomph! in the Community are Quantum, a retirement living provider, who are running the newly revamped sports classes in its daycare centres in Hertfordshire.

Maria Ball, CEO of Quantum Care commented, “At Quantum Care we are always looking for new and exciting ways to encourage our day-care users and residents to stay healthy, active and full of fun.  This is why we are so pleased to be partnering with Oomph! to train 48 members of the Quantum Care team to deliver exciting and impactful exercise sessions for older adults in Hertfordshire.

“Once our staff complete their training we will be offering exercise sessions across 16 care homes and will be encouraging the local community to join us in our efforts to help keep the people we care for, and the people of Hertfordshire, active and healthy”.

Sport England has put tackling inactivity at the heart of its strategy and launched the Active Ageing fund to tackle inactivity in the over 55s. Mike Diaper, Executive Director at Sport England said:

“Being active is one of the most important things people can do to maintain health and wellbeing as they age. We’re delighted to be supporting Oomph! with National Lottery funding to help get older adults to lead happier and heathier lives. We’ll be sharing learnings so successful approaches can be scaled-up or replicated across the country.”


Photo credit: Anson Court, Quantum Care


For more information on Oomph! in community settings, please email david@oomph-wellness.org