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Study shows that physical activity among residents of Perth retirement villages declined in lockdown

Study shows that physical activity among residents of Perth retirement villages declined in lockdown
August 9, 2021

Levels of physical activity among one third of residents surveyed in two Perth retirement villages declined as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, according to a newly published Curtin University study.

Published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing, the study explored changes in physical activity among 17 residents at two retirement villages in Perth during the lockdown in March 2020.

It involved telephone interviews with the study participants, all of whom were aged over 65 and participated in at least 30 minutes of moderately-intense physical activity at least two days a week before the lockdown.

Lead researcher Michelle Ng said the study residents continued to be physically active but at a reduced level of intensity, telling Australian Ageing Agenda "over a third of the participants commented that there was a decline in their physical health after the COVID-19 lockdown, which was more so for those who had [previously] participated in strength training at a gym."

Advising that study participants understood the importance of continuing to engage in physical activity during the lockdown, Ng, a PhD student at Curtin University, advised “however, the nature and intensity of the physical activity may have been inadequate to maintain or attain the same health benefits they were getting prior to the lockdown."

Before the lockdown, the most common physical activity was walking but residents also participated in water-based activities, dancing, sports, cycling, and using gym equipment.

The study also found that participants did not engage in enough multimodal physical activity such as resistance, aerobic or balance exercise as recommended by the Australian Physical Activity guidelines.

Noting that some participants enjoyed their time in lockdown, Ng went on to explain "over a third of the participants treasured the time they spent at home, which could be due to having more time to pursue their hobbies at home and reduced family responsibilities such as taking care of grandchildren."

However, the study noted that participants experienced poorer outcomes with their mental health and social connectedness during the lockdown but, according to Ng, coped by using the internet to connect with families, engaging in leisure activities and walking outdoors.

Stating that retirement village providers should promote intense physical activities residents can do within the home to maintain their health fitness during future lockdowns, Ng added "(they can also) develop resources collaboratively with their residents to meet the physical activity levels and needs of the residents."

Image used for illustrative purposes only.

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