Age Proves no Barrier for Duo as They Launch New Health Centre
A pair of physiologists at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, are establishing a Centre for Health and Ageing at the University’s campus in Carmarthen.
Dr Peter Herbert and David Gardner are behind the centre, which will be open to any member of the public over the age of 50 or any person of any age who has a mild chronic health condition that might benefit from regular exercise. It doesn’t matter whether you exercise regularly or haven’t exercised since school, the Centre for Health and Ageing says it will help you improve both your health and fitness.
The centre, which will officially open in January, is currently looking to recruit 60 members of the public to become involved in its work. This will enable each participant to have their very own training programmes developed specifically by a team of experts.
Dr Herbert is a leading authority on fitness in the older generation. His PhD looked at methods of training for older men, proving that shorter, harder training sessions followed by longer recovery periods can have positive results on their fitness levels. He also understands that a more moderate type of exercise can offer an alternative option to improve health and fitness.
As a highly experiences physiologist, Dr Herbert also has a wealth of knowledge and experience of working with sportspeople of all ages from a wide range of disciplines, including rugby, boxing and cycle.
A former strength and conditioning coach with the Scarlets and the Wales national rugby team, Dr Herbert, who is based at the university’s Carmarthen campus, is also an extremely successful cyclist, having won a bronze medal at the World Masters Track Cycling Championship in 2015 in the 500m sprint at 70 years of age.
“I wanted to develop my work with older people and this has led to my colleague, Dave Gardner and I, establishing a Centre for Health and Ageing on the university’s campus in Carmarthen. Dave is a highly experienced sport scientist currently researching ageing, nutrition and exercise in women for his PhD,” says Dr Herbert.
“The centre will be open to the public and we hope to develop strong community engagement by bringing together groups who have similar health and exercise needs to socialise as well as to improve their well-being. It will also be a research hub looking at how exercise can be used to enhance health and fitness in older people,” he adds.
A key and innovative aspect of the centre is its aim to increase student engagement with the community. This will not only enhance the scope of the centre, but also allow students to gain valuable work experience. After gaining additional YMCA awards in exercise referral and personal training, students on the current BSc sport and exercise science, will work with the public, with consultation with Dr Herbert and Mr Gardner, to assess participants’ health and fitness, managing bespoke exercise programmes for them.
“We are looking to initially recruit 60 people to join us,” continues Peter.
“After registering your interest we will invite you in for an initial consultation to discuss your specific needs and aspirations and we will then conduct a preliminary health assessment. If required, and with your permission, we might need to contact your GP to discuss any health conditions that may affect your ability to exercise safely. You will then be assigned a student personal trainer who will devise a programme for you, again in consultation with Dave an I, and manage it on your behalf. This is likely to involve one or two sessions a week at the university and also advice on home based exercise”.
All sessions at the University must be pre-booked and will cost £5. There will be a small group or individual sessions lasting one hour and will always have a fully qualified personal trainer supervising to offer advice.
The centre will also be able to offer advice on diet, nutrition and lifestyle to support your training and health needs.
Over the past eight weeks, Dr Herbert has been running a pilot scheme in preparation for the centre’s opening. Working with six individuals aged between 60 and 78 – both fit and unfit, some with medical conditions – he devised bespoke personal fitness plans tailored specifically for each individual. One of those taking part in the study is Gareth Williams, a former consultant surgeon at Glangwili and Werndale hospitals, who describes the experience as the best thing he has ever done.
“As you get older your body changes, but doing physical activity minimises the risk. Peter takes all your measurements at the start, such as your height and weight and the ratio of fat to muscle. He’s got some amazing machinery in the high performance laboratory,” says Gareth.
“I’ve put on 2kg of muscle on in the last eight weeks and my blood pressure has decreased significantly since starting this training programme.
“My passion is sailing but the older you get the more of an effort it is – you certainly have to have a level of fitness to be able to carry on and to be safe as you lose muscle strength as you get older. My aims when I started working with Peter were to reverse some of the things that had happened from a fitness point of view; to have a beneficial effect on my health and to improve muscle strength..”
Mr Williams certainly believes that the Centre for Health and Ageing will be a great success and believes that it will make a huge difference to the lives of older people in Carmarthenshire.
Dr Herbert added: “Having researched fitness in older people and having seen the results of the work we’ve done with the pilot group over the last two months, I feel we can offer a service that will greatly benefit the older population in Carmarthenshire.
“Along with the help of a select number of students studying on the university’s sport and health degrees, we will be able to offer clients a tailored training programme that will suit the age and needs of each individual. We hope that people across Carmarthenshire will use the facility and I look forward to working with a range of people of all fitness levels and abilities.”
For further information and to register your interest, please contact Dr Peter Herbert [email protected] or Dave Gardner [email protected] from the School of Sport, Health and Outdoor Education at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. You can also contact them on 01267 225187
Used with permission from the South Wales Evening Post
Scanned version of original article
Original article by Lee MacGregor