How are you making wellbeing a priority?

Put some fun into your life now to enjoy the physical and psychological rewards well into old age. Denise speaks with Dr Elaine O’Brien about movement, music and social connection – a winning combination for wellbeing at any age.



Dr Elaine O’Brien, PhD, MAPP, is the founder of Positive Fit Lab: Lifestyle Medicine. She is a health/fitness/medical educator who researches, speaks, writes and consults on a range of topics which combine wellbeing of the brain and body. She is a pioneer in the field of positive ageing.


The lowdown

Movement is good for our fitness and our psychological wellbeing. Adding music and social connection to this boosts the benefits we experience. In this interview, Elaine discusses how she became involved in teaching movement and her research into the impact activity with music has had on the older adults she has worked with.

Positive Exercise Practices or ‘PEP’ combines music with easy to follow movement, in a group setting. PEP has significant benefits for our physical and mental health. These non-traditional exercise classes which are particularly beneficial for older adults, work on the ‘whole being’ and raise awareness of the body in a fun, safe and affordable way.

In addition to the physical benefits of improved strength and balance, these classes benefit participants socially, emotionally and spiritually through the social connection. This connection and friendship developed with the other participants combat feelings of loneliness and isolation. This is what keeps participants coming back to a class.

For some people, the hardest part of joining a class is walking through the door. Instructors who are welcoming, value the participants and are passionate about what they do makes a significant difference to attendance and fostering the group’s connection as well.

There are lots of small ways that we can inspire movement and increase our activity. These include trying out new activities or getting back into the ones you did as a child, playing music from a time when you did dance and move, or having an exercise buddy to keep you accountable.

Teaching intergenerational classes is a great way to bring young and old together, provides another way to increase everyone’s level of activity and keeps our elders involved in our families.


Additional resources

Check out Elaine’s website:

Watch Elaine talk about the mind and body in a webinar:

Grab a copy of John Ratey’s book ‘Spark’, to learn more about the relationship between activity and mental wellbeing: