Exercise rejuvenating Alexandra's senior citizens

When the 73-year-old Justice Peteke of Riverpark in Alexandra decided to join a group of grannies in an exercise programme, he did it in an effort to improve his quality of life.

Fruit and vegetables

“Before joining this fitness club, I could not walk. My joints were very stiff and my blood pressure was very high. I’m happy today, I can enjoy life again,” he said proudly.

He said nurses at his local clinic had noticed his improved health and had asked him about it.

“I simply told them ‘I decided to lead an active lifestyle’,” Peteke said.

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Every weekday morning about 20 elderly citizens from Riverpark in Alexandra join up for a 5km walk, alternating it with an hour of exercising at a nearby park.

They do this under a non-profit organisation called Hope Giving which is run by 53-year-old Kedibone Sukazi, an openly HIV positive woman.

Sukazi said besides running the fitness club for oldies, she also gives them fruit and vegetables she receives as donations from one of the big retail stores in Johannesburg.  She believes a healthy body is not complete without a healthy meal.

Men have too much pride

“When I look back to 2014 when I started this organisation, I’m happy that I managed to save lives. Riverpark is full of teenage pregnancies and alcohol abuse which all add up to burdens on the grandparents in the end,” she says.

Most senior citizens at the club say they suffer from various chronic illnesses ranging from strokes and diabetes to arthritis and high blood pressure. The success of their involvement in the daily exercise programme is evidenced by reduced clinic visits.

Read: Exercise key to a healthy heart

“I remember at some point I could not walk without making brief stops before I reach my destination. Today I walk non-stop until I get where I want to be,” said one of the grannies, 65-year-old Kgomotso Malapane, who joined the club last year.

Explaining why he is the only man at the fitness club, Peteke said: “I tried to invite other men to join. They refused. Some men have too much pride. They think admitting to their pain is a sign of weakness.”

Read more:

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