Like many others, coronavirus turned my world upside down. I’m a musculoskeletal Physiotherapist from London and I specialise in Sports Medicine. I have spent the past five years working in professional women’s football and national gymnastics, but overnight found myself living with my parents with no patients to treat.
I have two grandparents in their late 80s who rely on exercise to maintain both their physical and mental wellbeing. When the government recommended 12 weeks of isolation for the elderly and vulnerable, my grandad’s cardiac rehabilitation classes were cancelled and I realised it was my time to step up. Having completed modules on the elderly and exercise during my Masters Degree, I dusted off old notes and began daily workouts with my grandparents via WhatsApp video. They loved it, but I loved it too. The Covid-19 lockdown had given me a rare opportunity to not only keep my grandparents fit, but also to speak to them every single day! This was my eureka moment.
There are hundreds of grandparents and elderly out there who, as our most vulnerable and lonely demographic, desperately need access to structured home exercise routines led by clinicians. I filmed some of the workouts that my grandparents had done, uploaded them to YouTube and shared onto Facebook, and the popularity grew incredibly quickly. The rest is history. Suddenly people were messaging sharing a similar story to my grandad’s, their pilates, yoga, aerobics, swimming had been cancelled and now there was something to replace it with. It has not only been an incredibly heart-warming process, but it is lovely hearing how these workouts are making isolation bearable (and enjoyable) to the elderly population. Keeping fit is particularly important during Covid-19 lockdown, but I am now even more aware of how vital these services are, even once normal life resumes.The Quaran-Tin Workout has a simple message: everyone deserves the opportunity to stay fit, active and healthy during these unprecedented times. And why is that so important?
Aside from my grandparents’ post-exercise endorphin rush, there is a huge amount of research to support the physiological benefit of exercise in the elderly. National guidelines suggest that adults over the age of 65 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. This includes strength, balance and flexibility work. Elders who are active have a lower risk of stroke, depression and dementia, and a much lower risk of falling. Additionally, it is advised that the elderly reduce their time spent sitting and should minimise long periods of time without moving. When faced with many weeks of isolation, these recommendations become very difficult to achieve.
However, exercise isn’t only about physical benefits. My grandad, who has a history of depression and anxiety, cannot function without regular exercise. The correlation between activity and mental health is strong, with reported benefits of improved mood and a better ability to cope with stress. Our current situation is incredibly daunting for many and exercise is a key antidote to easing this. Unfortunately, being able to reach those who are isolated is a difficult challenge.
The final part of the Quaran-Tin project is anecdotal. For me, my grandparents and the wonderful people in our ever-growing community, the importance of building a routine is not to be underestimated. Having a structured exercise routine upon which you can build the rest of your day is incredibly effective at reducing overwhelming feelings during the unprecedented times that lay ahead. Having a reason to get up in the morning, get showered and get moving provides purpose. It’s also a beautiful opportunity for me to spend quality time with an older generation. Ultimately, it serves as a reminder of what normal life is like in a time when everything is so unfamiliar.
The Quaran-Tin Workout provides daily 20-25min workouts on YouTube, aimed at the elderly, isolated and those with low exercise tolerance. You need 2 tins and a chair and will be led through a structured routine by a specialist Physiotherapist. All workouts can be found here.
The Quaran-Tin eBook available on the Apple store, providing a 7-day plan for the elderly at home. You can download it here.