How to keep active at home if you’re self-isolating or shielding
09 June 2020

How to keep active at home if you’re self-isolating or shielding

NHS health experts in Sussex have put together a list of top tips for people who are aged over 70 and self-isolating at home to support them to remain active during the coronavirus pandemic.

While many people have made the most of lockdown easing by getting outside more often, there are many people aged over 70 who are continuing to self-isolate at home, as well as thousands of people who are shielding for medical reasons.

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT) have put together some practical advice to help people remain active inside their own homes if going outside is not an option.

Sheila Doughty is a physiotherapist and Area Therapy Lead for SCFT and also physical activity clinical champion for Public Health England South East. Sheila said: “These are really difficult and challenging times for people and while lots of families and households are able to get out more now because lockdown has been eased, there are still so many people across Sussex who remain self-isolating at home.

“It’s really important for overall health and wellbeing that people try and keep active. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of lots of diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, dementia and type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, improves self-esteem, reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety and improves strength and balance. That said, we know it can be so difficult if you are not going outside at all or very often so we have put together some advice for how activity can be increased in and around people’s homes.”

Sheila has produced a short and informative advice video, available on YouTube: bit.ly/physioadvicevideo

Top tips include:

  • Activities around the home such as housework and gardening count as part of your daily activity level – try to move more quickly and put more energy into the movement than you might normally. Vigorous hoovering, sweeping and dusting can increase your heart rate.
  • If you have stairs these can form a major part of your regime. Count how many times you walk up and down them and try to do more each day. Can you safely walk up them faster? Can you set yourself a stair challenge? Use the hand rails to be safe.
  • What about your garden if you have one? However small your outside space is, try to spend some time there each day and be as active as you can. Could you put some music on and dance? Being outside enhances our feeling of wellbeing and can improve our immunity to infection.
  • Breaking up sitting time is essential to good health. If you are working from home can you spend some of the day standing at your computer (provided you have a solid surface to hold onto for support if needed)? Can you stand when on a video call or call with colleagues or family? Can you make an effort to get up and walk around the room after watching a TV programme?
  • If you are able to go out, even for short walks, try to do this on a daily basis while maintaining social distancing. Walking fast for even 10 minutes can have significant health benefits. Remember every minute counts – all minutes are good, more minutes are better.

Sheila added: “If you’re not sure how to get started, or if you haven’t been doing your usual activity for some time, remember to start small and build up gradually. Choose activities that you enjoy - all movement is good movement. Reward yourself for achieving goals and set new ones so that you always have something to work towards. There’s an activity out there for everyone, and finding an activity you love means you’ll be more likely to keep it up.”

SCFT is the main provider of community NHS healthcare across Brighton and Hove, High Weald Lewes Havens and West Sussex. Multidisciplinary teams provide essential medical, nursing and therapeutic care to adults, children, young people and families in clinics, community hospitals, GP surgeries, and in people’s own homes.