Below, Leah Jackson a Wellness Navigator at Inspired Villages gives us some tips to improve health and active ageing after lockdown …..
While the UK begins to enjoy the gradual lifting of lockdown and many welcome the re-opening of restaurants, bars and sports facilities, there are those for whom this feels a bit daunting. People who have been shielding and as a result, have spent the past year at home with minimised activity and movement may well be worried about ironing out those creaky joints and getting their pre-lockdown levels of mobility back.
Regular, light exercise is crucial according to the NHS. The experts suggest that adults aged 65 and over should aim to be physically active every day, take part in activities that improve strength, balance and flexibility at least two days a week, and do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week. There’s strong evidence that people who are active have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia.
Inspired Villages, an award-winning operator of later living communities, has been making sure that residents have remained active and healthy in lockdown, by offering virtual exercise classes, socially distanced outside exercise classes and group walking challenges.
With the return to normality on the horizon, it’s important that we take the time to improve our health and mobility. To celebrate National Walking Month, Leah Jackson, Wellness Navigator at Inspired Villages and the residents share their top tips on how to make sure your body and mind are healthy at home and ready for the return to normal life.
Aim to do some form of activity each day
Losing mobility is a genuine concern as people begin to grow older and as soon as any mobility begins to deteriorate, unfortunately so does the number of things that can be done independently. This has been magnified for those shielding indoors, but now is the perfect opportunity to take up light physical activity such walking as it becomes safer to be outdoors in public. The simple pleasure derived from getting outside and into the fresh air can’t be matched!
As highlighted by the NHS, any activity is better than no activity so no matter your ability, it’s important that you try and do some exercise every day to keep mobile. This could include anything from walking, swimming, cycling and gardening to cleaning, moving around the house and walking to get the daily paper – it all counts and is going to help you remain active.
Make small changes to your routine
If you’re not able to carve out any additional time in your day, there are a number of simple steps you can take in your daily routine to increase your activity such as getting off the bus a stop early, parking further away in a carpark or taking the stairs instead of the lift. While they won’t seem like much, by making these minor changes this can have a big impact on your general health and fitness and you’ll start to see the benefits.
Now that we all have a greater appreciation for the outdoors since lockdown, when things return to normal, why not try and keep up your new habits such as meeting a friend outside for a walk instead of sitting down.
Borrow a furry friend
Keeping a dog in later life has a number of wellness benefits but when it comes to getting outdoors and taking a brisk walk in the morning and evening, there’s nothing better than heading out in the company of man’s best friend. If you don’t have a dog, why not borrow one from a relative for the day. A number of the residents look after dogs while their family member or friend is at work to encourage extra walking throughout the day.
Not only is this good for staying active, the companionship that a pet offers is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress. Walking a furry friend often leads to conversations with other pet owners in the community which will help you stay socially connected.
Try out a new exercise class for active ageing
If you really want to increase your fitness levels, why not look into trying out a new exercise class or hiring a personal trainer. There are some great classes out there that you can join that will cater to your ability – do some searches in your local area and I’m sure there will be a class out there for you.
At Inspired Villages we are currently offering Zoom and outside exercise classes including Stretch and Tone, Pilates, Yoga, Walk A Mile at Home and Aerobics meaning no one needs to miss out because of the pandemic.
You could also try taking up a new sport such as walking netball or rugby, cricket, boules, golf or something more unconventional such as hula-hooping, like Inspired Villages resident, Veronica (65) who shares that she likes to hula hoop as “I can do it to my favourite rock or pop music which makes me feel uplifted and invigorated. I also like the fact that I can still move my body even though I am officially going to be an OAP this year!”
Inspired Villages Residents
Inspired Villages residents, Tony (64) and Anita (63) champion the benefits of golf and active ageing, stating that “for us the benefits of playing golf are both physical, mental and social. When playing we are physically active; constantly turning, twisting, bending and walking in the open air, for between three to four hours, covering nearly five miles in normally picturesque and pleasant surroundings.
“Mentally we benefit from being with like minded people, sharing a common goal, concentrating, to the exclusion of all else, on the game of getting that little ball into the hole with the least number of strokes. A break from the norm; your concerns stay in the carpark. Socially, the benefits of this interaction with a different group of people, than those we would normally meet or the family, is also hugely important and rewarding.”
Set a movement alarm
If you find yourself sitting down for long periods of time, why not try setting an alarm to give you the motivation to get active. This can be as easy as getting up and walking from one end of your home to the other, but an alarm will be a helpful reminder and an easy way to stay mobile.
You could also use a fitness tracker to monitor your daily activity and track your steps. You can set up your tracker to give you a nudge if you’re inactive and it is a great way to beat your personal best each day.
Challenge a friend
Why not challenge a friend, family member or neighbour to walk a long distance or cycle a specific set of miles with you. Not only will this motivate you, but also gets others involved and active too.
Challenges are always well received amongst the residents, with our villages running various challenges such as a length of John O’Groats to Lands’ End challenge where residents walked in teams or individually, an indoor triathlon challenge and a 30 day fitness challenge where residents set individual goals such as walking round the garden 100 times or climbing 10 flights of stairs each day. Working towards a common goal with their neighbours meant they could hold each other accountable and reach their fitness targets together – they also enjoyed a big virtual celebration after!
Spend time gardening or in the allotment
While not a hobby for everyone, as the summer months approach this could be a great opportunity to try gardening as an easy way to improve mobility. If it’s something you enjoy, getting out in the garden is a rewarding way to increase the daily physical activity needed to drastically increase your health. In addition, the increased exposure to Vitamin D will support your immune system and help active ageing.
Christine (75) and Chris (77), Inspired Village residents recommend getting out in an allotment, commenting: “the fresh air, gardening and making new friends – many of whom are younger folks with a keen interest in organic gardening – have proved to be a godsend during this last year. Social distancing is no problem at an allotment and we have fresh fruit and vegetables!”
Established in 2017 by long-term partner Legal & General, Inspired Villages operates and develops later living communities in suburban and rural locations across the UK. Each village offers beautiful, age-appropriate homes with vibrant communities at their heart that enrich the lives of both residents and locals thanks to the numerous wellbeing facilities and activities on offer. Along with the added benefit of flexible, on-site care, Inspired Villages provides an outstanding lifestyle choice that promotes independent living for longer.