Keeping active is essential for all stages of life.

Keeping active is essential for all stages of life.

SENIORS NETWORK: Physical literacy all about the journey

Warding off ageism stereotypes and prejudice

The Seniors Health Network each month poses a question to health-care professionals. This month, Matthew Hoogveld, Innovate Fitness’s events and legacy manager, was asked to respond to this question:

I’m 86 years old and I was reading about “physical literacy” in the paper. I’m not sure I understand what it means and what it means to me as a senior?”

The spectre of ‘old age’ has a cultural dimension, with North Americans often associating ‘old age’ with physical and mental decline.

The elderly are often seen as physically and mentally incapable of looking after themselves, and generally depicted in stereotypical ways – walking with canes, shuffling with walkers and moving along in wheelchairs.

These stereotypes in elderly adults establishes a lack of confidence in regards to physical literacy, an increased low level of self-esteem with respect to their potential and avoidance of needed physical activity.

With more than 56,000 elderly people on the Semiahmoo Peninsula, it is time to give you the chance to succeed in accordance to physical literacy. The growing elderly community – due to families with aging parents and the aging baby boomers – may ask: “why is physical literacy good for me and my family?”

“Physical literacy can be described as the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life (Whitehead, 2016).”

Physical literacy and physical activity are different, where physical literacy is the diversification for specialization and the individualistic characteristics of physical activity for an elder adult to participate in.

This essential investment with help reduces the onset of chronic diseases, keep you out of hospitals, reduce your medical expenses and you will have the ability to continue to do the activities you choose and be a lifelong mover.

In older age, physical literacy needs to be adapted for the individual to meet their physical capabilities.

Working with a physical literacy champion, you will develop a sound understanding of the value of physical literacy, and whether holding a negative or positive experience in exercise, you can embrace physical literacy in a modified forms. Modified forms are related to how you interact with the environment and how its elements uplift or constrain you.

Family, peers and medical professionals are all significant in these situations, and opportunities for activity should be made readily available in the elderly person’s surrounding environment to ensure the greatest chance of adoption or reintroduction of physical literacy.

Exposure to a variety of physical literacy experiences that challenge your physical skills is immensely beneficial towards your physical functioning and your quality of life. These modified activities can include: one-on-one work with a physical literacy champion, walk-and-talk programs, Kent Street Activity Centre programs, City of White Rock and Surrey older-adult programs. These programs will assist you in the acquisition and retention of the new skills you want to and will learn.

The future of physical literacy within the “move more” adults needs to be more specific and individualized.

Let’s challenge the assumption that physical activity is not appropriate for the older population, and make it a norm for older people to be depicted in physical activity environments and not just using walkers.

Physical literacy is a lifelong journey, but anyone can learn it at any stage in their lifetime.

As physical literacy experts, we meet you where you are now in your move-more life, and we facilitate opportunities for you to succeed.

Physical literacy is not about the destination, it is about the journey.

The South Surrey White Rock Seniors Health Network is a coalition of seniors service providers working under the auspices of the Mayor of White Rock’s office. Visit If you have a question for publication, please email