Staying active carefully

Date: 14 January 2021   Author: Energise Me

The effects of the pandemic and a year of lockdowns, restrictions, and changes have been profound. Many people with long-term health conditions have struggled to stay active and have felt isolated. 75-year-old Rosalind wants to stay active as long as possible!

FolkActive online dance classes member Rosalind on a walk


Enjoying activities

I enjoy a wide range of activities, but am increasingly limited by shoulder problems, arthritis in my hip, and recently by a broken wrist.  Balance and flexibility are very important. I’ve had occasional falls, and have attended the NHS balance clinic. I have broken a wrist on two occasions and have tendon damage from falls as well as osteoporosis.

I enjoy walking, attending Pilates and Keep Fit and swimming. Nowadays, I do less kayaking and I gave up riding a couple of years ago. Ballroom dancing wasn’t suitable because of my hip. But I love to travel and to be independent.

I started attending dances held by FolkActive – a folk music and dance organisation – several years ago. I loved it: the movement, the live music, the social aspect as I got to know people, and the lovely organisers. Lots of the dances are from Hampshire and the New Forest. I’m very interested in the background; it appeals to my interest in local heritage.

I found that my social circle was much more limited than normal. I tend to be pretty cautious about going out because of my age.

 The impact of lockdown

For me, the lockdown had a big impact on my ability to stay active and to do the things I normally enjoy.  I did lots of local walking, and attended Skype Pilates and Keep Fit.  I tried solitary dancing to CDs, but it’s hard on your own. My husband doesn’t like dancing. I found that my social circle was much more limited than normal. I tend to be pretty cautious about going out because of my age.

Earlier this year, Energise Me and Sport England supported FolkActive through the Investing in Communities project to run fortnightly online ceilidhs. This meant that dancers could join each other online, get some exercise, and stay connected.

FolkActive dances online are a godsend

FolkActive online dance classes

Online classes and activities can be difficult for lots of people. FolkActive made sure to include extra time at the beginning of each session so we could log on early and have a chat. But for me, having the activity I loved was a real lifeline.

The online dance classes are excellent exercise. They are good for cardio, balance, and flexibility. There’s even a bit of mental exercise in following the moves! What I particularly like is that you can do as much or as little as you like. Sometimes I have added in some more vigorous steps. Other times when I have hip or wrist issues, I have taken it easy. Once, I just sat and enjoyed the music. It makes a big difference with Jo suggesting ways of dancing on your own. For example, using scarves.  The live music and the folk songs are fantastic and make all the difference. It’s foot-tapping, it’s impossible to stand still.

These online dance classes have been a great balance of the active and the social. It’s lovely that I know the people concerned and the other participants. It wouldn’t be the same for an impersonal online event. I enjoy seeing people I know and the brief chats after the zoom sessions. It’s a lot to do with the engaging personalities of those who run it, including the volunteer caller, the musicians, and Jo.


Safety first

The online events are run safely. I am reassured that FolkActive have a system to check on people in case of falls. I once got a phone call to ensure that I was all right when I disappeared off the screen to answer the door!

Whilst dancing alone wasn’t as much fun, I have found the community of online dancers really gives me a boost.

I felt rather sad and a bit of an idiot at first dancing on my own, but soon cheered up and really enjoyed it. I always finish on a high which carries over and I find myself humming the tunes for days afterwards.

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