The only age group to do more exercise during the coronavirus pandemic was the over-65s. That is according to a study carried out by University College London (UCL). It analysed data on the exercise habits of people aged between 14 and 93 before and during lockdown, as well as after restrictions started to ease.
Looking at the habits logged on a free activity-tracking smartphone app, the researchers discovered most people’s ways of exercising have changed during the pandemic. While the majority of the population have become less active, this is not the case for the older age group.
As well as remaining more active throughout lockdown, this demographic were seen to up their exercise as soon as restrictions eased too. This means the over-65s are keeping themselves in better shape than younger people.
This is particularly important as lifestyle factors, such as the amount of exercise an individual does, can factor in everything from COVID-19 risk to the chances of getting dementia. Even regular walking can help to reduce risk factors for these conditions.
Dr Jennifer Cole, a biological anthropologist at Royal Holloway, University of London, told the Telegraph: “People over 65 are generally retired, and may simply be returning to pre-lockdown lifestyles of walking the dog in the morning or walking to their local shops in the afternoon, whereas younger people are more likely to be tied to working from home during the day.”
She added that the social activities that get people up and out of the house are more likely to have started again for older people than their younger counterparts. Going to a local tearoom or coffee shop often involves a short walk and plenty of moving around.
There’s also the chance that those who fall into higher risk groups, such as the over-65s, have been shocked by the pandemic into adopting healthier lifestyles. Dr Cole believes this may be why more elderly people have started to exercise more in this troubling time.
“It may have made them more aware of their mortality than was the case for other groups,” she summarised.
Dr Charlie Foster OBE, from the University of Bristol, said that the study should be a reminder to the UK government that all physical activity matters. Many of the ways in which people used to be active pre-lockdown are no longer available, making it hard for them to stay fit.
Keeping fit and finding purpose in activities is encouraged throughout Barchester’s care homes. This is facilitated by the teams who help to deliver a schedule of events that get everyone moving. Even if you can’t visit your relatives during lockdown, it’s worth reminding them to get up and walk around as much as possible, as this will help them to maintain their mobility.