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HEALTHY AGEING

How to stay active during lockdown

Physiotherapist Nancy Farmer offers expert advice for older adults on how to stay active during lockdown.

February 01, 2021

How to stay active during lockdown

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Every minute counts when it comes to staying active and moving around. Read our expert physiotherapist advice to help people stay active as they age. 

Staying active as we age has never been more important. But as lockdown continues, limiting our access to the outside world, it’s not easy to shrug off sedentary behaviour and encourage more movement.

Nancy Farmer, an experienced physiotherapist specialising in elderly rehabilitation, is passionate about helping older people improve their strength and stamina.

Here are Nancy's top tips to help people feel the benefit of exercise as they age.

 

Infographic: top tips to stay active during lockdown

Activity vs exercise

Just the word ‘exercise’ can put people off. But movement doesn’t have to mean a virtual pilates class or a long walk if you don’t feel up to it.

Cooking for example is a great physical activity. Standing at the hob can build up muscle tolerance and you can improve balance as you reach for items around the kitchen. But don’t overstretch yourself. There are some fantastic daily living aids such as kitchen perching stools available that can make daily activities easier, safer and more accessible.

Are there any activities that you like doing around the home, but maybe haven’t done as much recently? Think of these as opportunities and work out how could you safely include them back into your routine.

 

Something is better than nothing

Yes, the guidelines state that people should do 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week but in reality, especially in light of lockdown and the rise of sedentary behaviour, anything is better than nothing.

Every minute of movement is better than not doing it. That could be walking round the block, using light weights to work on the upper body when sat down, or even using the bottom step as a step up (holding onto the bannister if you need it).

 

Set realistic goals

If you’re thinking “this is all very well, but how do I push myself?” then realistic goals are the answer.

Work out what you want to achieve (such as walking round the park twice) and then set out a plan for how you can make this happen. For instance, using a walking stick or walker could give you extra support, or taking breaks every five minutes to build your energy back up.

Every goal should have a time frame for when you want to achieve it by, so that you can really focus, and breaking it down into smaller, weekly goals makes it much more manageable.

Tell a family member or friend – they can act as your cheerleader, willing you on – and also give you someone to update on progress.  Or find a friend to walk with and add a social element to the activity.

 

Tailor exercises to you

Everybody can exercise, regardless of age and ability. It’s just a case of finding what works for you. For example, if you find it hard to get on and off the floor for yoga, try some exercises on the bed so you can easily get up afterwards (a physiotherapist will be able to set some for you). Or look for equipment which could make exercising more comfortable such as a cushioned yoga mat.

When it comes to our body, it really is use it or lose it. A little movement every day can make all the difference. You can do it!

 

About the author

Nancy Farmer,physiotherapist

Nancy Farmer is a physiotherapist specialising in elderly rehabilitation and runs ElWell, helping people look after their parents as they get older.


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