A programme of seated exercises helped improve the physical and mental wellbeing of frail elderly people in just couple of months, according to the findings from a trial scheme.
More than 60% of older people who took part in the programme experienced an improvement in physical function within 10 to 14 weeks, found a pilot run by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) and exercise specialists Move It or Lose It.
“Resistance-based exercise is critical for older people”
Meanwhile, many participants in the classes for over 60s reported feeling less lonely and unhappy.
The chair-based exercise regime was tested in Banbury, Leicester, Oxford and Suffolk as part of the pilot funded by a grant from the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Sixty older people took part in classes delivered by volunteers and staff who received two days of training in “resistance-based exercise”.
The classes were run in community centres or as part of the RVS’s Home from Hospital service in Leicester.
According to the study findings, 61% of people who took part experienced functional improvement, with most moving from low to moderate functioning.
The pilot halved the number who reported feeling lonely and more than one in four had improved scores for happiness, with 10% fewer people reporting feeling extremely or very anxious.
University Hospitals of Morecambe NHS Foundation Trust is the first health service trust to commission RVS to deliver Move It or Lose It to older patients.
The classes are now on offer to older patients on five wards across the trust’s three main hospital sites.
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The RVS said it wanted to see many more organisations to commission the programme in hospitals and community settings as part of efforts to prevent falls and reduce hospital admissions.
“Resistance-based exercise is critical for older people because of rapid loss of muscle mass and strength – particularly following a period of illness, surgery or an accident,” said Allison Smith, head of strategy and development for RVS.
“The physical benefits of the Move It or Lose It programme in this pilot were clear, with the positive impacts on loneliness and isolation an added benefit,” she said.
“Improved mobility helps older people live more independent lives and we would like to be able to offer Move It or Lose It programmes across the country working closely with both hospitals and primary care to reduce frailty and support older adults to be more active and happier,” she added.
Exercise teacher Julie Robinson, who developed the programme, said there were generally far fewer activities on offer to elderly people and those with conditions like dementia – despite the many benefits.
“Frail older people and those with cognitive impairment are not always well catered for in mainstream community activities, particularly when it comes to exercise,” she said.
“The Move It or Lose It programme helps older people regain strength, balance and flexibility which helps prevent age related decline,” she noted.