DAVID HEATHCOTE, head of business development for Honley-based fitness equipment company Shapemaster, offers advice to older people on staying active this winter. David, who lives in Salendine Nook, volunteers on the Members Council of Locala and is himself rubbish at going to the gym, so knows what it’s like!

Staying or becoming more physically active over the coming months is one of the most important things we can do to reduce vulnerability to illnesses such as Covid and winter flu – and to increase the effectiveness of booster jabs.

If you’re older or less mobile, your physical and mental health and wellbeing are even more important as winter approaches.

If you have a parent, grandparent or older friend – let them know about the things they can do and encourage them to be active for 30 minutes each day. Show them you care about their health and wellbeing.

I caught a moment with Graham (pictured above with me and below), a retired business owner from Salendine Nook, who keeps active with regular walks around his area and attends the Reform Gym in Lindley.

Graham said: “During lockdown, my granddaughter insisted I walked laps of my garden to look after my health!”

Whatever your level of physical activity is now, we should all try to do a little more or to start to do something. For older people this could mean:

  • A few chair-based exercises each day or getting out of the chair to walk or jog on the spot;
  • An extra walk around the block, leave the car at home or walk one bus stop further;
  • Join an activity group or arrange to do something sociable with friends.

Whatever your exercise level, invest in your health and do a little more. And keep doing it.

Why is this important?

  • Being more active reduces your chance of being admitted to hospital with Covid or winter flu;
  • It means you’re less likely to suffer other conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke;
  • It makes you happier and generally feel better.

There is lots of information around to get the right advice for each of us: ask Kirklees Active Leisure or AgeUK, look on the internet or ask a friend for advice.

Graham stays active with regular walks around where he lives

Here are a few examples to inspire what might help you to be more active:

Kirklees Active Leisure

  1. YourKAL – an on demand/ live stream virtual platform available via the KAL app, with the classes currently available for free and a number of these suitable for older people;
  2. First Steps To Fitness – a new recommendation scheme for people not used to being active or making use of a KAL site – essentially provides the opportunity for a free month’s trial and a support package. Search ‘First Steps to Fitness’ in the articles section of www.kalfitness.co.uk or phone 01484 766131;
  3. Get Active OWLS days – low-cost, multi-activity and social sessions held at several KAL sites on various days of the week.

You could also search for information and advice from our brilliant local independent gyms run by owners who are passionate about our wellbeing.

Shapemaster’s free home exercise videos

Local fitness equipment manufacturer Shapemaster provide a series of free exercise at home videos with gentle exercises led by their physiotherapy consultants. The videos were created during lockdown and continue to provide value for people exercising at home.

Search ‘Shapemaster home exercise videos’ on www.youtube.com.

Growing Focal

Growing Focal is a new growing space based at FOCAL community centre at Reinwood in Lindley. The aim is to encourage community gardens and planting wildflowers to help combat climate change, help wildlife and pollinators, and transform physical and mental wellbeing.

Search for ‘Focal Lindley’ on Facebook or you could explore something similar near you.

As winter draws in, you may prefer to search online for some of these exercise indoors ideas:

Shapemaster’s exercise at home videos

PE with Joe Wicks

NHS home workout videos 

Move it or Lose it workout videos for older people

Yoga with Adriene 

10 best online home workouts (The Guardian)

Maintaining a level of exercise indoors will enable you to enjoy more outdoor exercise, adding variety and interest to your wellbeing plan. We also encourage you to be sociable in your exercise with friends and family.

Active travel

Active travel means making journeys by physically active means, like walking or cycling. There are many advantages of this, particularly health, environmental and financial (a triple benefit) so it is worth considering active travel as a way to get around and improve your health at the same time.

Could you walk the children or grandchildren to school? This has health benefits, reduces school drop-off traffic (and your time in queues!) and provides precious time with the children in those special years.

Could you safely walk to the shop instead of that short journey in the car? You might meet a neighbour on the way to chat to.

Do you have a bike in the shed that could provide a useful way to travel around?

As with any exercise, you should find the exertion level suitable for you and make sure that your physical environment is safe. Push yourself but don’t overdo it.

Most importantly, enjoy the multiple benefits of being more active!