Keeping active at home - Physiotherapy advice during Covid-19

At Willen Hospice we are committed to supporting you to keep active, especially whilst there are restrictions in place and people are in isolation.

Why is physical activity important?

As humans, we are designed to move. Being active helps us in a variety of ways:

It helps to stop your body becoming weaker and weaker as the less you do can become a vicious circle and you do even less and so it goes on.  

Activity can help you feel less tired, less worried, stronger, more confident and makes doing general activities easier.  

Everyone is different, some like exercise, some don’t. Activity doesn’t have to be about doing exercises; it’s about finding activities that you enjoy doing to keep your body moving.

How much exercise is recommended?

The national guideline for adults is to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week. Moderate-intensity means you get a little warm and breathe slightly faster (but still able to hold a conversation) when you are being active, this level will vary from person to person. 

It is also advised that people do strengthening exercises twice a week. 

If you are just starting activity, you need to gradually build this up, start with 10 minutes a day. 

Exercising Safely:

  • Start slowly and build up gradually

  • Do not exercise if you are unwell

  • Wear well-fitting footwear and comfortable clothing

  • Drink plenty of water

  • If you have bone problems, avoid high impact exercises such as running and zumba

  • Avoid uneven surfaces and activities that risk falling, especially if you have bone problems

  • If any exercise or activity causes or worsens pain or other symptoms, stop doing them and contact your health care professional

  • If you have lymphoedema, wear your garment if you have one and avoid heavy repetitive exercises

  • Avoid bending forwards if you have back or bone problem

Activities to do at home:

  • Everyone is different, every home is different. Here are a few ideas to help you to keep active, especially when you can’t go out or access leisure facilities. 

  • Find ways to get up more frequently from your chair: You could keep the TV remote next to the TV for example so you have to get up every time you need it

  • Use the stairs if you have them and can manage them safely: Maybe use the upstairs toilet during the day to encourage you to use the stairs more often

  • Do some house work – vacuuming or light dusting depending on the intensity levels you need

  • Go for a walk around your home or your garden – put a coat on if it’s cold outside but care if wet and rainy

  • Gardening is a lovely way to be active, being around nature is also very good for lifting your mood too. You can be digging, mowing, weeding, planting, potting, watering. Consider gardening at your garden table or using a small watering can for lighter exercise.  

Sticking to it:

  • Being active and doing exercises isn’t easy for everyone. There are a few ways to keep you on track:

  • Keep a diary – you will be able to see how much you do each time and how you improve

  • Stick to a regular routine, like taking you take medication at regular times, do so with exercise or activity. Set a timer on your phone or kitchen clock  

  • Try and find something that you like doing. If you can’t really think of something then do activity whilst doing something you like – for example do chair exercises when watching TV

  • Find an exercise buddy, you can send your buddy updates to motivate you

  • Don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a day, you are human. Try and get back on track as soon as possible

  • Loved ones can help to motivate you but be firm if you feel they are pushing you too much, it is important to do things at a pace and time that works for you
     

Resources and Links:

NHS advice on exercise

NHS Advice on activity for older people

Advice from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists

Macmillan Advice on Physical Activity for people with cancer

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy – Easy Exercise Guide

Watch a video on Coping With Breathlessness, presented by our own Physiotherapist, Nicola McKinnon.

Watch a video demonstrating Seated Exercises, again presented by Nicola McKinnon

In this video, Nicola McKinnon presents a series of Standing Exercises for you to do in the comfort of your own home.

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