Lockdown restrictions’ impact on physical health of older people

Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees are urging older people to try to keep moving, to protect themselves against the complications and ill health that can arise because of deconditioning.

Saturday, 22nd May 2021, 8:00 am
Picture: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Months of being cooped up at home, long periods of inactivity, and the cancellation of social events have taken a toll on some older people’s fitness and reduced their ability to complete their everyday activities.

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While many of us have seen a drop in our activity levels over the course of the pandemic, the reduction in activity has been disproportionately high among older people, leading in many cases to muscle weakness – clinically termed ‘deconditioning’.

Without regular movement the muscles of older people can quickly lose strength and tire more easily, making recovery from illness far harder.

On top of this many older people reported that their sense of balance has been affected, which can increase the risk of falls.

Even older people who were previously in excellent health before the pandemic have noticed a decline in their physical health. For many, this can lead to a loss of confidence and independence.

Chief Executive, Lisa Butland said: “Try not to sit still for more than one hour at a time, even just moving arms and legs can help.

“If possible, try to create a daily routine that incorporates some activity.

“Try standing up out of a chair regularly, or gentle stretches such as lifting legs, one at a time”.

The advice from Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees is to find something that works for you - not only will moving more improve mobility and health, but it will also generate heat to help keep you warmer.

As with any new physical activity it is important to start slowly and only do what you can. It is fine to push yourself a little bit, but do not do anything that doesn’t feel comfortable and trust your instincts about your own limits. Stop if you are feeling any pain or light-headedness and make sure to rest and stay hydrated.

Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees are launching a new Walking Football group, in partnership with Ryburn United Football Club.

You can sign up now by contacting 01422 252040 or visiting www.ageuk.org.uk.