Armchair fitness – just take a seat

Armchair fitness – just take a seat

The benefits of staying active and mobile are multi-fold. And your elderly relative doesn’t even have to leave the comfort of their own chair. Age Space Norwich catches up with Ryan Hughes of Active Norfolk to find out more

It helps your memory; makes you feel happier, and keeps your muscles and bones strong. So helping your elderly relative to stay as active and mobile as they can is a no brainer, isn’t it? Not only that, it helps manage their weight; is social and enjoyable; can help to reduce the pain caused by arthritis; and can help control their blood pressure.

And it doesn’t even have to involve them leaving the comfort of their own home. Ryan Hughes is the Physical Activity Project Officer for the Mobile Me programme run by Active Norfolk, which focuses on the over 65s and is designed to address barriers to participation within this age group. He says: ‘In terms of exercise in the home, we like to emphasise that every little bit of activity an older person can do will have a positive effect, no matter how light. The majority of people can do some kind of activity and the level of this will be dependent on the individual.’ Although he does makes the point: ‘In terms of specific exercises it is also important to remain safe whilst doing this.’

As well as the Mobile Me programme, Active Norfolk is able to offer advice on seated exercises people can do in the home, and can support people in accessing instructors or training for seated exercise, if they wish.

Here are some mobility exercises you can do in your chair (please ensure that the chair you use is sturdy and stable; plus wear comfortable clothes and supportive footwear):

  1. Ankle Rolls – draw a circle with your big toe in the air in both directions.
  2. Seated marching, start gentle and build up the pace. Swing your arms too if you find this easy.
  3. Stretch out your chest muscles gently by squeezing your shoulder blades together then relax. Repeat five to six times, morning and night.

More about Mobile Me: October 2014 saw the launch of Active Norfolk’s bowls pilot programme, which introduced weekly short mat bowls sessions to the communal areas of six sheltered housing schemes managed by Circle Housing. The pilot was a huge success, and the legacy left behind is clear to see, with a number of residents continuing to play bowls on a weekly basis over a year on.

Due to the success of the bowls pilot, it has now evolved into Active Norfolk’s Mobile Me project, which is funded by Sport England’s Get Healthy Get Active initiative, with match funding also received from Norfolk County Council’s Public Health and NHS Norwich CCG. The programme delivers adapted activities such as Short Mat Bowls, New Age Kurling and Boccia within sheltered housing sites and residential care settings over a 10 week period, with an aim to normalise physical activity as part of the culture for older people living in sheltered accommodation and residential care settings.

Active Norfolk have a great directory for you to search sporting activities in your area, visit