Residents’ physical health declined in lockdown: study

A Curtin University study has found that Perth retirement residents’ physical activity during the COVID-19 lockdown fell short of what they needed to maintain their physical health.

One third of surveyed retirement village residents’ physical health declined following the COVID-19 lockdown in Perth, a Curtin University study has found.

The study published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing 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.

“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,” Ms Ng told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Michelle Ng

Study participants understood the importance of continuing to engage in physical activity during the lockdown, she said.

“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,” said Ms Ng, a PhD candidate at Curtin University.

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, for example, Ms Ng said.

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.

Some participants enjoyed their time in lockdown, Ms Ng said.

“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,” Ms Ng said.

However, participants’ experienced poorer outcomes with their mental health and social connectedness  during the lockdown, according to the study.

Residents coped by using the internet to connect with families, engaging in leisure activities and walking outdoors, Ms Ng said.

Retirement village providers should promote intense physical activities residents can do within the home to maintain their health fitness during future lockdowns, she said.

“[They can also] develop resources collaboratively with their residents to meet the physical activity levels and needs of the residents,” Ms Ng said.

Access the study.

Comment on the story below. Follow Australian Ageing Agenda on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, sign up to our twice-weekly newsletter and subscribe to AAA magazine for the complete aged care picture.  

Tags: australasian journal on ageing, COVID19, curtin university, michelle ng, research, retirement villages,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *