The long-term benefits of Synergy online dance, yoga and audios
By Rachael Hurton, founder
We all know that doing physical activity is proven to relieve stress, improve mental health and boost the immune system. Synergy Dance provide innovative dance and yoga activities in schools and leisure centres, serving both mainstream and the Special Needs and Disability community. At Synergy, no one is left behind.
Maintaining regular routines is very important – and during the Covid outbreak, Synergy took their activities online for a fully inclusive platform, so that their dance and yoga can be practiced outdoors/indoors, early morning, lunchtime or at the end of the day, on demand, at home or in a shared setting. It is a very flexible programme. This new platform delivery has been made possible with special thanks to EMD UK and Sport England/Lottery funding, to tackle inequalities in activity rates in the UK.
Synergy’s National platform of inclusive online classes reaches out to a diverse range of groups who are keen to keep fit but may not always have access to fit for purpose activities:
The Synergy lessons are innovative and fun and tailored to each type of group. The platform includes courses for: children, teens, adults and the elderly – who may choose from a wide range of activities and courses to keep fit, social and active including: Special Needs including Autism & Cerebral Palsy; Visually Impaired and Blind; The Disability Community; Long Term Health Conditions; The elderly and Adults with a learning disability.
The dance and yoga programmes are FREE for all ages including seated Para Stars Dance™ and ParaStars Yoga®, our bespoke brands, Synergy Audio Yoga™ & Synergy Audio Dance™, a new style of delivery, with additional programmes for autism, cerebral palsy and those with learning difficulties – all via an easily accessible online platform. (Synergy also built a pilot platform for mainstream activities which reached global audiences during lockdown 1, funded by Synergy mainstream).
There is a lot of content for children – and the platform is also supporting teens, adults and the elderly. You can view a taster of the platform and vision below, incorporating our #Together We Can campaign:
The platform is easy to access with many free courses to encourage sustainable health and activity behaviour changes.
Benefits and how the online resources will transform lives:
We set up our platform to support improved mental health and wellbeing to under-represented groups. The main goals were to improve confidence and self-esteem and to improve fitness – with regular, fun activities to enjoy and look forward to.
Our yoga and dance audios, Special Needs lessons and ParaStars® Yoga and Dance seated classes are designed to:
- Improve spatial awareness, balance and co-ordination and to improve posture– which is a major issue for both Visually impaired adults and children and the disability community.
- Improve physical and motor skills
- Improve ability in the disability community to act freely within their environment
- Improve confidence and self-esteem, increasing independence and quality of life
- Allow for decreased social isolation through participation, fun and building of skills
Synergy’s fully inclusive and innovative provision of dance and yoga improve both physical and mental well-being. Disabilities often affect whole families, not just the person affected and when a participant experiences improved quality of life via our program – this in turn has a positive impact on close family members, friends and carers who are always delighted to witness anticipated improvements such as confidence, better posture and new agility and skills.
The programmes have been designed in consultation with our participants to meet their specific needs, facilitating desired accessible service provision, co-designed by the participants themselves and helping to redress local health inequalities.
Participating in our seated activities will enable people of all ages and abilities to maintain fitness, flexibility, motor skills, core strength and improve posture which is very important to those who are restricted to seated activities or how lack mobility due to a long term health condition. They will also help to improve mental health and well-being and aid better sleep. The online lessons enable fun activities and using the imagination whilst being home bound, as we introduce props to our routines and enriching music. The online courses also improve general well-being and reduce feelings of stress and frustration at being confined to home – participants can do classes daily if they wish or several times a day and we encourage participants to build up regular patterns of exercise on a weekly basis which can become a natural part of their fitness routine. Sport England/Lottery funding enabled Synergy to offer these services quickly and efficiently online to those groups who were in danger of being left out of accessible exercise programmes. Our online pilot had already established a growing need for on demand activities at home.
The larger scope is that we will continue to develop our online programmes beyond Covid 19 and National lockdowns. Anticipated impacts on society and the economy are that more people from disadvantaged or inactive groups will take part in exercise because it is easy to access, without finance or travel as a barrier to taking part. This in turn will improve health and activity rates.
Inactivity causes a number of health-related illnesses
In 2006/2007, the estimated cost of physical inactivity to the NHS was:
£117 million for stroke, £542 million for heart disease, £65 million for colorectal cancers, £54 million for breast cancer and £158 million for type 2 diabetes. Academic research shows that the rising global burden of NCDs such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases, constitute a major and increasing public health challenge costing around $50 billion worldwide (Lancet. 2016;388:1311–24). There has been a great deal of academic research already which reveals that physical inactivity is the 4th leading cause of global mortality.
I believe Synergy can help to solve the societal challenges outlined above through our Synergy online courses, as we go beyond what we have successfully delivered to scale and have longevity, reach and benefit many more people, improving inclusivity, health and wellbeing for all across the UK.
Feedback so far…
Feedback so far shows that Synergy participants look forward to our activities as part of their weekly routine. The benefits of being able to continue the service online are:
1) Enabling the disability community to have more of the same choices and opportunities to participate in yoga and fitness activities as their non-disabled peers.
2) Our participants have built new friendships in face to face classes, so feel less isolated and have built resilience to social situations via the regular and repeated nature of the classes. Via both online dance and yoga, we have provided continuation online – the activities will break up their day and can be repeated and practiced as often as they need.
3) The participants have built confidence and self-esteem and had the opportunity to be creative and are encouraged to express themselves with freestyle sections in many workouts.
4) By having an active role in what they are doing participants feel positively empowered. The children we teach are also given challenges and goals, and so they learn the value of effort and hard work giving a sense of achievement on a weekly basis.
5) The participants have also become more active and physically fitter across the year, since we started our online platforms: what may have proved a challenge at first, became easier over time. They have enjoyed trying new fun activities, especially the audio yoga, which they had never experienced before. Some participants even asked us to “make it harder” as they travelled over the threshold from complete beginner to improver.
With Covid 19, we expect anxiety levels to be up – especially if tensions are picked up at home. Parents are now trying to juggle working from home and potentially supervising children, with disabilities. Our classes bring structure to the day and enable participants to improve their flexibility, motor skills, core strength and posture by repeating yoga postures.
The overall goal is improved physical and mental health and wellbeing (providing additional value by also improving feelings of confidence and wellbeing for disability families and carers) and helping to reduce the burden on health and social care services in regions throughout the UK. To find out more, become a Synergy teacher or to join a class visit our websites:
Change in lifestyle pattern
Option of on demand and face to face exercise