NSW Knockout Health Challenge boosts fitness

Shane Ford is among a group of Illawarra Aboriginal residents who have completed a statewide health challenge, and says he is boxing, rowing and "feeling fabulous". Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Shane Ford is among a group of Illawarra Aboriginal residents who have completed a statewide health challenge, and says he is boxing, rowing and "feeling fabulous". Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Ten weeks ago, Lake Illawarra man Shane Ford struggled to walk without assistance but thanks to a statewide fitness challenge, he's now fighting fit.

The 45-year-old is among a group of Illawarra Aboriginal men and women known as the Illawarra Titan-Ups who are taking part in the NSW Knockout Health Challenge.

Three times a week they can be found punching the bags, pounding the treadmill or lifting weights at the Shell Cove Family Health gym.

Mr Ford has gained strength and lost weight during the challenge, now in its last week, and has been able to decrease his reliance on a walking frame.

"I've got a lot of fluid retention and weight issues and earlier this year, I spent three months in hospital because of an abscess on my stomach," he said.

"When I came out of hospital, I heard about the challenge and thought I may as well give it a go.

"When I started, I could barely exercise for 15 minutes, now I'm doing 45 minutes non-stop of mostly boxing and rowing.

"I'm also getting around for the most part without the frame and am feeling fabulous."

The NSW Health challenge was initiated across the state in 2012 to reduce the prevalence of chronic disease in Aboriginal communities.

"It's all part of Closing the Gap," Mr Ford said. "A lot of indigenous people suffer from chronic disease and on the whole, they don't live as long as the general population."

Shell Cove Family Health has run the 10-week program with the help of staff from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and Grand Pacific Health.

Exercise physiologist Liz Smith said the challenge included education so participants could continue their own health journey.

"It's about giving participants the tools and empowering them to manage their own health into the future," Mrs Smith said.

"They are supervised in group workouts and are also given information on diet, exercise and goal setting.

"As well as significant improvements in cardio fitness, blood pressure readings and weight loss, we've seen participants' confidence and knowledge around exercise grow."

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop