Although older people will have to stay at home, it is vital that they keep moving.
As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass at a steady rate and this accelerates past the age of 75.
‘However, even a short period of sedentary living can dramatically increase this decline,’ says Caroline Clarke, an occupational therapist at Age UK.
Chair yoga is a great way to get the wonderful health benefits of yoga. Staying seated means that even those who aren’t flexible can safely do the exercises. Yoga is an excellent way to loosen and stretch painful muscles, reduce stress, and improve circulation. The benefits also include better breathing habits, better sleep and an overall sense of well-being. Join Allison from Hot Yoga, Edinburgh for a 30 minute session. You’ll love it!
A 2018 study, published in the Journal of Physiology, found that healthy older people who were inactive for two weeks had pronounced loss of muscle mass in their lower limbs.
To avoid this, aim to get up on your feet at least once an hour.
‘If you have a garden, take a stroll for ten minutes several times each day,’ says Caroline.
‘Try to walk briskly until you feel a little warmer and your breathing rate rises slightly.
‘Or, when waiting for the kettle to boil, for example, go up on your toes ten times in a row while holding on to something like the kitchen sink.’
Here, we explain how to use your home as a gym to stay fit.
Climb the Stairs
Stair climbing works your heart, lungs and leg muscles.
Japanese research found that using the stairs for two sets of three minutes in the one to two hours after eating lowered blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes. While Canadian researchers suggested even just climbing one flight of stairs daily makes your brain 0.58 years younger.
Personal trainer Elliot Upton, from global training group Ultimate Performance, says: ‘Even taking side steps while holding the bannister challenges the body in different ways.’
You can also march on the spot if you don’t have stairs.
‘Pushing against something that won’t move while you also don’t move creates what’s known as an isometric contraction of the muscle,’ says personal trainer Ollie Campbell from Priority 6 in Oxford.
Isometric exercises help maintain muscle mass and can be particularly good for people recovering from injury or with problems such as arthritis, which can affect movement and lower blood pressure.
She suggests a couple of simple moves to get you started. First, stand with feet 2 in away from the wall, hands pressed against it in an upright press-up position (below). Lean forward and push and hold for ten seconds. Now, move your feet back another 2 in and repeat the hold. Keep moving back until you reach the point when you start with straight arms.
Lift Kitchen Pans
‘A backpack filled with books can act like a weighted vest,’ says Surrey-based trainer Tanya White. ‘You can climb up the stairs with it on, or perform lunges, squats or push-ups.’
Edinburgh-based trainer Nicole Wright prefers to raid her kitchen for makeshift weights. ‘I have a heavy Le Creuset pan that I have been known to use in a workout.
‘It’s good for side bends targeting the oblique muscles. Or I squat, grab it and then raise it straight over my head before repeating.’
AGE UK has a free exercise video appropriate for all older people who want to work out at home. It can be downloaded from www.generationgames.org.uk
If you need to self-isolate, you may find that you are not as active as usual. Try and ensure you can get some exercise walking round your garden, joining exercise groups online, dig out that old keep fit DVD and also watch that you don’t snack too much if you are bored sitting around. Use all this unexpected free time to do all those jobs you have kept putting off for a rainy day like tidying cupboards, sorting photos – prints and digital ones, sort out your wardrobe and keep in touch with friends using technology- online Scrabble is great!!