A collaboration of Australian health experts and physiotherapists have launched a new website designed to help older people remain active at home.

It comes in response to concerns that an increase in the number of older Australians staying at home during COVID-19 restrictions could result in an increase in falls and reduced physical function.

 University of Sydney and Sydney Local Health District Professor Cathie Sherrington says the group, representing ten universties, research instutions and health services, were worried about potential unintended consequences of home isolation for older adults.

“Unfortunately, when it comes to exercise it really is ‘use it or lose it’,” Professor Sherrington said.

“When people are less active, they risk losing functional abilities and will be at increased risk of falls. All people need to undertake exercise at home during this time. Older people are no exception but may need extra advice on how to set up safe programs.”

The Safe Exercise at Home website provides videos demonstrating three levels of simple exercises and also offers tips for increasing motivation, safety and activity at home, as well as resources and information for health professionals.

Associate Professor Cathy Said from the University of Melbourne and Western Health, says its important to replicate normal activity levels at home.

“Under current circumstances, older people are missing out on their weekly round of golf, bowls or exercise classes, which over a sustained period of time could be really detrimental,” she said.

“Even if you weren’t doing a regular exercise program before the restrictions, you are likely to be less physically active as you will be missing a lot of incidental exercise. This could be a great time to start a regular exercise program.”

Australian guidelines recommend all older people incorporate some form of physical activity into their day including fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.

The Safe Exercise at Home website collaboration includes the University of Tasmania, University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, Monash University, Curtin University, University of South Australia and University of Queensland in partnership with the National Ageing Research Institute, Sydney Local Health District (NSW), Western Health (VIC) and Peninsula Health (VIC).

It is endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association.

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