Those 65 years and over are increasingly experiencing age-associated diseases and health impairments due to increase life expectancy and low fertility.

Shellharbour City Council has recognised its ageing population and has implemented a two-year Healthy Ageing Strategy to support the wellbeing of these residents with a variety of  programs and activities.

Shellhabour Mayor Marianne Saliba is committed to providing for the older community in any way she can.

“Council has taken the initiative of installing exercise equipment throughout the city to encourage people, particularly over 50s to come and use the equipment because we know, when people exercise they’re healthier,” Clr Saliba said.

“When people are healthier they put less burden on State and Federal budgets and when they’re healthier they’re happier people, that’s what we want; a healthy and happy community.”

To encourage the use of the outdoor equipment, the council has funded “Come & Try”, an eight-week fitness program free to anyone aged 50 years and over.

Held every Monday, a qualified exercise physiologist shows participants how to use the equipment safely, giving them confidence to continue using the equipment independently after the completion of the program.

“They will show them what sort of exercises are the best for them and help them if they’ve got any injuries and how to deal with that,” Clr Saliba said.

As well as increasing physical activity, the program encourages participants to make social connections to boost mental and social wellbeing.

Shellharbour resident and former Australian boxing champion, John Bogolin is taking advantage of this opportunity to get back into fitness.

“It’s a great chance to get fit, get outdoors and the equipment is easy to use,” Mr Bogolin said.

“I’m doing the program because it’s close to home and I’ve already met others who share the same interest in getting fit again, it’s good to mix up my daily fitness routine.”

Councillor Saliba hopes to implement the same type of program when more equipment is installed around the Illawarra.

Through the council’s consultation with the community, it has been identified that Oak Flats and Albion Park will be the next two locations to receive outdoor equipment.