Stay Active: Supporting Your Body and Mental Health

By Kara Gemmell

As all of our routines have been so greatly interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of staying physically active.

Many of us may be tempted to fill our time with sedentary activities such as watching TV. However, older adults are at a great risk for falls, health decline and emotional fatigue when they are not able to regularly exercise.

For you and your loved one, intentionally creating a daily routine around physical movement is vital for your body as well as your mind!

Consider encouraging your loved one to do the following:

  • Get Up and Move! Set a timer in their apartment and make sure you get up and move around your space, go out on the porch, get a glass of water, challenge yourself to keep moving throughout the day.
  • Practice at-home Fitness. Across the Loretto communities, therapeutic recreation and therapy staff are providing substitutes for group fitness. Resources such as printed workout routines, pre-recorded classes with familiar staff members available on the residents TVs or online classes are all readily available and can be completed safely in a resident’s apartment.
  • Practice Seated Stretching and Breathing Exercises. Stretching out our hands, feet, neck and shoulders can be a great physical relief as well as a simple way to focus on relaxation. Your loved one can practice breathing exercises such as closing their eyes and taking 10 deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. These types of routines can even aide in falling asleep.
  • Get Outside and Take a Walk. Spending time outdoors is a great way to energize ourselves and engage in healthy movement while still being practicing good social distancing.

With encouragement your loved one can make movement a priority in their day. As we all navigate this difficult time it’s important to remember that continued exercise cares for your mind, body and mood!

Kara Gemmell is director of recreation at The Nottingham, an independent senior living facility in Syracuse, part of Loretto.

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