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Deconditioning – how to prevent a second pandemic

It may sound dramatic to talk about a second pandemic especially in view of the incalculable impact of Covid19, but it is a very real threat. Millions of older people and those with long term health conditions are suffering the consequences of inactivity and loss of social contact over many months, a situation which is unfortunately ongoing.

I know how every year, following the Christmas break, there’s a discernible decrease in fitness and strength after just two or three weeks at home without a class and lower activity levels. Every six weeks, we use the 30 seconds sit to stand test (how many times you can get up and down from a chair in 30 seconds) which shows if leg strength is improving, plateauing or declining. The vast majority of people decline by 10-20% but this soon improves when they get back to ‘normal’ – weekly classes, home exercises and getting out and about on a regular basis.

Research has shown that reducing the number of steps taken per day to less than 1,500 for two weeks can results in almost 4% loss in muscle in 66-75 year olds.  So how can we begin to imagine the impact of lockdown, physically, mentally and socially, especially for those in their 70s, 80s and 90s.

I was asked to speak on this topic for a webinar with CIMSPA (Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity and wanted to share my presentation with everyone who is interested in helping older people to stay healthy and active to reduce their need for medical or social care. You can watch my presentation here.


Move it or Lose it has developed a wide range of ways to keep people active and connected. We are keen to share our ideas such as:
  • The new Move it or Lose it Club which combines a wide range of exercise videos which can be done at home along with an online social club to give a real sense of community and fun (watch this space for more information soon). Find out more here.


  • Our free Get Up and Go routine providing gentle exercises for frailer people in hospital or care homes. Find out more here.


  • Stand Up for the NHS campaign backed by our ambassador, Olympic gold medal winner Tessa Sanderson – a daily exercise that takes 30 seconds but can turn back the clock by 10 years. Find out more here.



  • A bespoke seated exercise DVD funded by HOPE (a housing association in Dundee) in partnership with Royal Voluntary Service giving local residents a way to stay active at home with references to local landmarks and history for reminiscence.


  • A book, band a call – a funded project in Birmingham helping those who are not online to follow our Stay Fit for Life book illustrated with personal support through regular phone calls.




  • Bespoke training – if you are interested in running workshops or CPD for your team, please contact

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