National support for Sheffield Hallam-led Covid-19 physical activity project

17th June 2020

A booklet co-designed by Sheffield Hallam academics to keep older people in Sheffield physically active during the coronavirus lockdown has been reproduced nationally and will be distributed to 250,000 homes across the country.

The Active at Home guide was designed in partnership with Age UK, the Centre for Ageing Better, Public Health England, Sport England and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy to support older and vulnerable people to stay active and healthy at home.

The booklet, which contains exercises and techniques for older or less mobile people to do around the home as well as advice on keeping mentally active, has been distributed to more than 25,000 older and vulnerable people across the city during May.

Following its success, Public Health England (PHE) decided to reproduce the booklet on a national scale. Copies will be distributed within 250,000 shielding boxes by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to people defined as extremely vulnerable on medical grounds.

A further 250,000 copies are being made available for councils across England to distribute and they can also be downloaded from the PHE Campaign Resource Centre.

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines recommend adults should aim to be active every day and undertake activities to improve strength on at least two days each week.

Research by Sport England found that older adults (55+) are struggling to stay as active as usual during the Covid-19 pandemic, with considerable disruption to their activity levels. While 24% say they have been more active than before the outbreak, considerably more (38%) report doing less.

Dr Anna Lowe, Programme Manager for the National Centre of Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) Sheffield, based at the University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), is leading the project.

The AWRC is the most advanced research and development centre for physical activity in the world, dedicated to the health and wellbeing of the population through innovations that help people move.

Dr Lowe said:

“Being active is essential for our mental and physical wellbeing. This booklet is designed to empower and support older and vulnerable people to take daily exercise as well as having a healthy routine to help keep them as physically and mentally strong as possible.

“It has been well received across the city and we are delighted that Public Health England has chosen to reproduce the booklet on this scale and help those who are older people and those with health conditions around the country to remain as active as possible.

“Physical inactivity can have major implications for everyone, particularly those with health conditions and also older people whose mobility could be compromised. Resources such as this booklet are vital in preventing inactivity by reaching those most at risk.”

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