Move With Mary

Age NI and Lady Mary Peters launch Lockdown Fitness for Older People

covid icons

Experts warn lack of movement is storing up next health crisis.

Age NI has teamed up with Lady Mary Peters to launch an exercise programme aimed specifically at keeping older people moving during the extended Covid-19 lockdown.
Move with Mary is a series of five exercise videos, to be released online this week, which caters for every level of capability, ranging from simple seated stretches, to balance, strength and gentle aerobic exercises suited to older people.
The launch comes as health experts have warned of the dangers to older people from a lack of regular movement and as UK research* reveals that 40% of older people are worried about the effects of the lockdown on their mental health and physical wellbeing.

Linda Robinson, Chief Executive of Age NI explained, “The British Geriatrics Society has warned that “lockdown and social distancing measures have led to dangerously low levels of physical activity in older people, which, if not addressed as a matter of urgency, will prove to be detrimental to their physical and mental health”.

“Our service users and their families are telling us that they are worried about the effects of not moving as regularly over this past three months: they are stiffening up, muscle strength is diminishing and this can affect their balance – which is a particular worry for older people. All of this can lead to a loss of confidence, even in terms of simple mobility around the house.

“Our real concern is that this is storing up the next health crisis for our older population. We need to do all we can to avoid further loss of independence or the need for additional medical treatment in the future.

“That’s why we wanted to do something to help older people to keep moving while at home. With the success of Joe Wicks and his online school PE classes, we thought we could do something similar. We are thrilled to have Lady Mary Peters leading this important campaign at such a challenging time. With Move with Mary, we’re going to give Joe Wicks a run for his money!”

Lady Mary Peters said, “To me, movement is life; it’s so important as you get older to keep active. These exercises are nice and gentle, and trust me, they will help you to feel good during this difficult period of lockdown. We have some stretches you can do whilst sitting in a chair, moves you can practice while standing waiting for the kettle to boil, or brushing your teeth, even working up to a bit of kitchen dancing if you feel up to it! One of the added benefits of regular exercise is the feeling of community you get from doing the same as others. Hopefully we can create a little virtual community of what I’m calling my “golden oldies” all doing these daily workouts together.”

Rodney Morton, Director of Nursing, Allied Health Professionals and Midwifery at the Public Health Agency highlighted the importance of keeping mobile and active. He said, “Loss of muscle tone and endurance due to chronic disease, immobility, or loss of function is known as Deconditioning. Once lost, this is hard to recover. Now, more than ever, it is so important for everyone, especially our older population, to keep moving and protect their independence. Moving more is also good for everyone’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. These short films are designed to show people how to safely keep moving during Covid19. There is a mix of chair-based and standing exercises, so we hope that there is something for everyone.”

In partnership, the videos have been developed to support the work of the Northern Ireland Frailty Network, Age Friendly Network NI, care homes and The Age Sector Networks, groups delivering locally for the benefit of older people. A booklet, ‘Keeping Well at Home’ will compliment this online resource.

Welcoming the opportunity to collaborate on this initiative, Olive MacLeod, Interim Chief Executive of the Public Health Agency, took the opportunity to thank Lady Mary Peters for playing such a key role in the delivery of this campaign. “Lady Mary is one of our local treasures and we want to see our older population live long and healthy lives. We hope that anyone who is isolating or shielding will really benefit from this important message.”

The Move with Mary exercises will be available as a download from www.ageni/movewithmary with the series of five short workout videos being released across this week on Age NI’s social media on, Twitter @Age_NI and Youtube:

For more tips on being active click here.

 Find out more!