Staying fit and well at home, a guide for older people

When it comes to physical and mental health, even brief periods of physical activity can have a positive impact on things like our mood, appetite, balance and mobility. For older people, these things are all important but particularly challenging if we are going through periods of isolation and loneliness.

We all know that routines can be important but until the time comes when our routines can return to normal, it is really important to stay as fit and healthy as we can. If we can do that together, then we can all get back to making the most of life when the time comes to do so.

So what can we do in our homes without the benefits of gym equipment, relaxing swimming pools, our friends, family and the great outdoors?

The good news is that we can do quite a bit more than you might realise.

Gentle, regular exercise routines

Staying at home doesn’t have to mean staying still and even ten minutes of gentle exercise a few times a week can improve your energy levels, cardiovascular health and wellbeing. Before you reach for the tracksuit and trainers, rest assured you won’t need any of them. All these gentle routines can be done just as you are either sitting down or standing but if do you have any pre-existing health conditions you should always check with your GP before attempting any of them.

For gentle stretching you can sit, preferably in a straight back chair without arms, such as a dining chair or stand as straight as you can with shoulders relaxed and feet flat on the floor, about a hip-width apart.

First of all try reaching for the sky with both arms, palms as flat as is comfortable, hold for a couple of seconds then push down gently to the ground with palms flat towards the ground, repeat the exercise as many times as you feel happy too. Once you have got the hang of it, try one arm at a time, straightening them without locking.

For gentle kicking exercises, if you feel happy to try them standing we recommend having a high backed chair to hold on to for support. Gently kick forwards with your right leg, then swing back, repeat this as many times as you like before swapping legs and try to get as high as you can while remaining comfortable.

For gentle twisting exercises, stand or sit with hands on your hips and gently twist your upper body to the left, then over to the right. Again you can repeat this exercise as much or as little as you feel able to.

Repeating these just a few times each week can make all the difference in helping your mood and your physical health. There are one or two other great ideas to try too if the exercise has given you an appetite for more…

Making the most of the spring sunshine

There are still lovely sunny days outside our window even if we can’t enjoy them as much as we would like at the moment. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, now is the time for pottering, tidying and perhaps putting a few morsels out for your resident garden birds as they get ready to nest. If it is safe to do so, you might even have the chance for a much-needed catch up over the fence with neighbours doing the same thing.

Indulging in the kitchen

There is nothing like home cooking and it is one of the things that older generations do better than anyone, as every son, daughter and grandchild knows! Home cooking is therapeutic and wonderfully traditional, don’t be afraid to get in your kitchen a few times each week and cook up your families favourite things, they might not be able to enjoy them with you for a while, but why should that stop you enjoying them yourself..?

If you have been busy with some of our gentle fitness routines, you definitely deserve a treat; perhaps the family will be a little envious when you tell them. Be sure to stay in touch with friends and family over the phone, whenever you feel like talking, the chances are they will too and will welcome a chat. We are all in this together after all.

Stay safe and take good care of yourselves.

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