Elderly residents living in Sudbury and Great Cornard in Suffolk have felt the health and social benefits of getting active by playing Beat the Street this Autumn.
Over the past six weeks, thousands of people in Sudbury and Great Cornard have run, walked and cycled more than 52,000 miles for Beat the Street. The physical activity initiative was delivered in both communities in partnership with Suffolk County Council to encourage residents to get active and improve their health.
Dozens of schools, community groups, clubs and businesses participated in Beat the Street but for the retired residents of Banham Drive the initiative has encouraged them to get active and given them newfound independence.
Banham Drive is a community of retirement bungalows in Sudbury who have been taking part in Beat the Street together as a team. More than 90% of residents are aged over seventy with many team members only able to walk to one box at the end of the drive. Despite these challenges, the residents of Banham Drive managed to walk more than 1,500 miles together and come in fourth place on the leaderboards.
However, the biggest achievement for members of Banham Drive is the change in health they’ve seen after playing Beat the Street. Kerry Butcher, team leader and resident, said: “Beat the Street came at the right time for some members who have had illnesses or operations recently who used Beat the Street as an incentive to slowly get mobile again.
“What is most remarkable about our team is those members who could only manage to walk to the Beat Box at the end of the drive, and so were not in it for points, but still involved and taking part.”
In addition to the health benefits, Beat the Street has helped connect Banham Drive residents with the wider community: “New parts of the town have also been discovered as we’ve meandered between boxes and shared with each other different routes to take. New friendships have been made in the Drive, and new acquaintances made on some of the organised walks by the Beat the Street team and Council.”
Staying active is more difficult in later life, but it is vital to be able to live independently says Dr William Bird, CEO and Founder of Intelligent Health, said: “Physical activity is essential for older people to be able to maintain their independence. Moving regularly builds muscle strength which is key for individuals to be able to carry out daily activities in older age.
“Age is one of many factors that can be a barrier to meeting the recommended levels of physical activity. Beat the Street is incredibly successful in engaging the most hard-to-reach individuals because it makes physical activity accessible to everyone regardless of background or ability.”