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Active at Home: New booklet launched to encourage physical activity at home

The booklet launched by Public Health England and Sport England provides older adults guidance on home-based activities to help maintain their strength and balance.

Ageing Better has supported a new booklet aimed at encouraging older adults to partake in physical activity in the comfort of their home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A new national Active at Home booklet will help older adults undertake physical activity at home. It has been designed to help them prevent physical deconditioning that increases their risk of falls, loss of physical capacity and increased need for care during COVID-19.

Public Health England, Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) and Sport England developed the booklet to provide practical guidance to older adults on activities they can undertake at home in order to maintain their strength and balance. It follows concerns that low levels of physical activity will lead to reduced fitness resulting in loss of independence and need for care in the future. Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty, highlighted the importance of exercise by saying,“There is no situation, no age and no condition where exercise is not a good thing”.

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines recommend adults should aim to be active every day and undertake activities to improve strength on at least two days each week. This particularly applies to older adults, as there is a natural decline in strength from the age of 40-50 and for those over 65 years muscle and bone strengthening exercises are essential.

While young people and families with children are accessing online resources to keep them active at home, many older adults do not have access or the confidence to use the internet or digital avenues. Survey data suggests that those over the age of 55 are struggling to stay as active as usual during the COVID-19 pandemic, with considerable disruption to their activity levels. While 24% say they have been more active than before the outbreak, considerably more (38%) report doing less.

The booklet is aimed primarily at older adults for use by local authorities and others who support them. It has been developed with the support and experts from a range partners, including Age UK, the Centre for Ageing Better and the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy.

It is available for download from the PHE Campaign Resource Centre. Printed copies will be distributed within 250,000 shielding boxes by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to people defined as extremely vulnerable on medical grounds.

To find out more, please visit the PHE Campaign Resource Centre or contact physicalactivity@phe.gov.uk.

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