As health and wellbeing month continues on the Eldernet Gazette, we showcase the revolutionary fitness and rehab equipment developed by HUR, which could have a huge impact on the aged-care sector in New Zealand.
Maintaining physical health – particularly strength, balance, and flexibility – is important at any life stage but becomes crucial as we get older. As well as reducing the risk of chronic conditions such cardiovascular disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes osteoporosis and even cancer, physical exercise has also been proven to help people cope with mental health issues.
Yet most gym equipment has been designed for younger, able-bodied people, even though the world’s population is steadily ageing. By 2034, it is expected that New Zealand’s population of people aged over 65 will hit 1.2 million people (over a fifth of the population). [i]
Which is where HUR – a tech company producing fitness and rehabilitation equipment designed specifically for older people, people with low mobility, and physical and cognitive disabilities – comes in. Some of our team got to see the HUR equipment in action at the opening of the Arvida Good Friends Living Well Centre in Christchurch in April; Mason Head, our Content Creator, was even treated to a hands-on demonstration of one of the machines. We spoke to John Ashley, Managing Director of HUR New Zealand, about how its range of gym and rehab equipment could be the future of fitness for the aged care sector.
What is the history of HUR and how did you get involved with the company?
The company was originally conceived in 1989 as Helsinki University Research (hence the acronym HUR). These researchers found that for many older people or people with disabilities, traditional gym and rehab equipment wasn’t safe or easy enough to use. The overall goal is to improve the quality of life for people.
I first came across HUR a few years ago while attending an Active Ageing Conference in Singapore and thought it was amazing; then I saw the equipment being used in community gyms across Australia and was really impressed. As luck would have it, I got the opportunity to play a role in bringing HUR equipment to NZ – and I haven’t looked back!
What makes HUR different to traditional gym equipment?
As we age, we lose 4.5kg of muscle every decade; statistics show that 29% of people over the age of 60 can’t lift five kilos, and that number shoots to 46% when people are aged over 80. There is substantial evidence too that physical activity reduces the risk of falls and injuries from falls, prevents or mitigates functional limitations and is effective therapy for many chronic diseases. But for many people – particularly older people with mobility issues or disabilities – using traditional gym equipment or doing standard exercises just isn’t an option.
The HUR range of equipment uses air compression to generate resistance, which significantly reduces stress on joints and tissues, and entirely avoids the risk of accidents from overloading muscles. The equipment also uses our SmartTouch technology, which allows each user to set up each machine for their individual needs by ‘tapping on’ with a smart card. Basically, we’ve made equipment that is easy and safe to use for people of all fitness levels.
What makes HUR equipment a good choice for rehabilitation?
HUR uses compressed air rather than hefty weights, which means your movements are much safer and more natural. You can start from no weight at all and work up in increments of 100 grams or 1 kilo – automatically or manually. Plus, some of our machines allow health professionals to effectively ‘turn off’ parts of the machine, to allow them to focus on specific joints or limbs.
HUR also provides a training platform called a Senso (which is a little like a dance mat) to help improve people’s physical and cognitive function, through interactive activities and gaming. It’s perfect for people who have recently had a stroke or suffer from disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or dementia.
Where can people use HUR equipment in New Zealand currently?
It’s great to have HUR equipment at Arvida’s first New Zealand Community Hub – we’ve already had positive comments from people who have used the equipment. You can also find HUR equipment at retirement villages in Auckland, including Selwyn Heights, Selwyn Village and The Grove Orewa. The Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit also regularly uses HUR equipment for rehabilitation. Of course, we think every residential care facility and retirement village in the country should be using HUR equipment – so that’s our goal for the future.
For more information about the range of HUR of fitness and rehab equipment, visit https://hur.co.nz/
[i] Better Later Life (He Oranga Kaumatua), 2019 to 2034: A strategy for making the future better for New Zealanders as we age, page 9