Experts at the University of New Hampshire are stressing the importance for older adults to find safe and accessible ways to remain physically active to help strengthen muscles, improve balance, enhance their immune systems, and reduce stress while being safe at home.

According to an article posted to the UNH newsroom and distributed to media, experts have suggested that during the COVID-19 pandemic many people, particularly seniors, have become more sedentary and homebound than before.

“People in their 20s and 30s often set health goals like running marathons or losing weight but as people age there is a point where they shift their priorities to maintaining health, not necessarily for athletics or looks but for improving the ability to do their daily activities,” Summer Cook, associate professor of kinesiology at UNH and an expert on senior fitness, said in the article.

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Cook said health issues can be accelerated by a sedentary lifestyle, heightening the importance for seniors to add more physical activity into their routines. Even engaging in simple activities around the house can increase muscle strength and increase blood flow to the heart, improve balance and posture, strengthen bones and joints, and enhance cognitive function, the article said.

“My goal is to keep older adults as independent as possible as they age,” Cook said. “And while most seniors find themselves not getting out of the house as much these days, it’s important for them to know that there are still plenty of ways to work on their health at home.”

Cook outlined the following tips for folks to get started:

  • First, discuss any exercise plan with your doctor to make sure it is safe and focuses on your physical needs
  • Look for a Zoom or online exercise class specifically designed for seniors
  • Focus on low-impact exercises that help with balance, flexibility and strength
  • Take walks with friends following CDC COVID-19 guidelines (face coverings and physically distanced)
  • Do not over exercise; start slow and build slowly to avoid injury and boredom

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