Entertainment Sport and Health

Healthy for Life – Staying Well in Lockdown and Beyond

We have been in lockdown for over 5 weeks now with some of us sticking around home earlier than the level 4 restrictions. Staying well during this time is especially important and a new one-off show called Healthy For Life is here to help.  

Hosted by Bernice Mene, Healthy for Life is designed to help older people work on strength and balance through an exercise programme called the Super7.

The show provides tips for staying safe at home, keeping your brain active, maintaining social links and advice about healthy eating and sleep – all from the comfort of your bubble.

We had a Q&A with John Parsons, PhD NZRP of University of Auckland who came up with the series to find out a bit more.

Associate Professor John Parsons

Why was creating the show Healthy for Life important to you?
I am passionate about keeping older people safe and as independent as possible. At the start of the Level 4 lockdown I had discussion with some of the DHBs and it was apparent that there was a significant risk associated with frail older people confined to their homes.

Remaining physically active in later life is critical to maintaining independence in activities of daily living and is a major contributor to overall health status amongst older people.

In addition to that we know that there are other significant risks for older people stuck at home. This includes access to good nutrition, the risk of disturbed sleep, issues of safety in the home, keeping in touch with friends and family and also how to keep the mind / brain active while stuck indoors.

Was communicating your message in a television format new to you?
The medium of TV for spreading the messages from both New Zealand and international evidence for keeping older people healthy and safe in the home is a new one for me and for a lot of the team that I bought together.

I have been on an interesting journey over the past few weeks that as an academic physiotherapist I blundered through the normal processes of commissioning a TV show, accessing the TV station and finding a production company in record time, unaware of how long this normally takes!

I have been staggered at how amazingly supportive TVNZ has been to get our message out as soon as possible. In addition, the wonderful team at Tomorrowland, the production company, have worked incredibly hard to get a top-quality product ready of broadcast in a fraction of the time that it would normally take.

The key challenge was making sure that over the course of the two days of filming in the middle of Level 4 restrictions we kept everyone safe and in line with the advice for social distancing and hand hygiene. Yet another unusual experience that can be put down to COVID!

We have also been very fortunate in finding very generous donors and funders for the production of the Show (ACC, The Hope Foundation, The Donny Charitable Trust, Health Quality and Safety Commission, Te Hiringa Hauora/Health Promotion Agency, The University of Otago Collaboration of Ageing Research Excellence Theme, the University of Auckland, Bupa New Zealand and Auckland University of Technology).

Was this filmed during lockdown or was the timing just by chance?
Yes, the filming was during lockdown and we received clearance from the Chief Medical Advisor, Older People, Ministry of Health to undertake the filming. We worked hard to make sure that the filming was completed according to the Level 4 restrictions.

What are you hoping viewers will get from the show?
I am hoping that the key messages in the Show will provide advice and guidance to older people who are still stuck in their homes and who may remain there for a while longer.

The exercise programme (Super7) and the messages of nutrition, keeping safe in the home, keeping in touch, sleeping well and keeping the brain / mind active are all very important to keeping older people healthy and independent.

Healthy for Life screens on TVNZ 1, May 2 at 9AM and repeats Saturdays thereafter and will also available on TVNZ OnDemand.  


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