Armchairs get residents pumping to boost mobility

As we get older, doing the simple things in life can get a little harder such as getting out of an armchair, walking the dog and meeting new friends. This is particularly the case in Staffordshire where approximately 20,000 people aged 65 and over feel lonely, with more older people living in the county than the national average – it is a statistic which through the collaboration of providers can be reduced and lives can be improved.

Local charity, Realise and Aspire Housing have recently teamed together to fund and run gentle exercise classes for older persons living in Community Living schemes across the area to help reduce this statistic and improve mobility and social isolation.

The weekly sessions are run at Community Living schemes for people over 55 years of age, including Mill Rise on Lymebrook Way, Newcastle-under-Lyme. The scheme provides residents with the opportunity to enjoy a sociable, friendly living space with activities which help to enrich the body and mind including bingo, quiz sessions and now armchair exercise classes which are funded by the Realise charity.

Members of staff have undergone specialist training to carry out the sessions including Housing Support & Wellbeing Services Advisor, Donna Morgan.

She said: “It is a bit like going to the gym; the more classes that are attended, the more likely residents are to get increased strength and ability to do the tougher exercises.

It is a great social event for residents who meet friends and have fun at the same time.”

The classes include equipment funded and provided by the Realise charity and start off with a warm-up consisting of the tap and clap which helps get the arms moving and also the low arm swing, lasting thirty-seconds each so residents are always comfortable.

As the session goes on the exercises become more difficult such as the trunk twist, thumping for a lift and walking the dog. The exercises are aided by elasticated red bands which can be moved around the body, across the chair or be used by standing on them to create a taut strap which tones the muscle.

Mill Rise resident and keen gym goer, Enid Nussbaum says;

“This has been my first session today and I really enjoyed it. Exercise is very important to me and I frequent the gym quite regularly. I feel so much better after exercise and it helps keep us all mobile! I will be recommending these sessions to my friends and I look forward to the next.”

Realise charity Programme Co-ordinator, Ben Morris says; “These classes are a great way for the charity to improve people’s wellbeing. The equipment and training have been fully funded by Realise and the uptake of these sessions has been very rewarding to hear the great feedback and involvement from residents.”

Since launching the sessions earlier this year, the collaboration between Realise charity and Aspire Housing has supported more than 400 residents to become more active, meet new friends and enjoy regular exercise.