Staying active is one of the keys to living life to the full as you get older. You don’t have to run a marathon or embark on a strict exercise regime – a few small changes can make an enormous difference to your health and wellbeing in later life. As well as helping to manage or prevent health conditions, it can also improve our mood, keep us socially connected, improve our balance and flexibility, strengthen our bones, and create a sense of routine. Together all these things can help us to maintain independence so that we can continue doing the things that are important to us for longer.
Edinburgh Leisure is a charity on a mission to keep everyone active and well. Each year our Active Communities programme uses the power of physical activity and sport to support over 10,000 people affected by disabilities, health conditions, poverty, and inequalities to improve their health and wellbeing.
We believe that no matter how old you are, it is never too late to be active. Our Active Communities programme supports older adults of all abilities and we are here to help you find an activity you love.
Our Get Active programme offers low level exercise classes for people who need a helping hand to introduce physical activity back into their lives in a relaxed and friendly environment. While they are open to all ages, they are most popular with older adults looking to weave more movement into their lives.
While our leisure centres have been closed over lockdown, we have moved our Get Active programme online to continue supporting people to be active virtually. We are currently live streaming our most popular Get Active classes so that people can access them from the comfort of their own home and build on the healthy habits they had formed. These include Active Dance, a fun way to get active to music and improve your fitness without even realising, and Active Sit, a chair-based class which focusses on improving mobility and strength.
Our Steady Steps programme supports older adults who have had a fall. It aims to improve their confidence through strength and balance exercises so they can do everyday tasks like housework or walking to the shops more easily, reduce their risk of falling again and stay independent for longer.
Since the first lockdown, we have sent participants pre-recorded Steady Steps classes with simple exercises that they can safely do from home and, more recently, we have been live streaming Steady Steps classes over Zoom.
Husband and wife John and Barbara, both aged 91, are two of our Steady Steppers who have been exercising at home:
“We loved having Michael’s pre-recorded classes to watch during lockdown. They have played an important role in maintaining our mobility, strength and balance and it gave us structure to our week during the long months of isolation. We knew Michael beforehand so seeing a familiar face made the online class so enjoyable. It was like having an old friend in the living room with us.”
John and Barbara are a wonderful example of the age old saying ‘age is just a number’. We are proud that we have been able to bring them joy during a difficult time and we hope that more older adults will join them in being active and reaping the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.
For more information about how we support older adults to be physically active, see www.edinburghleisure.co.uk/activities/active-communities
Amy Fastier and Ryan Martin are Health Development Officers at Edinburgh Leisure