A coach from Huntingdon is encouraging older people in Cambridgeshire to stay physically and mentally active at home during the coronavirus crisis by turning to seated gymnastics.

Kim Hall is the lead trainer for the Love to Move programme (pic British Gymnastics Foundation)Kim Hall is the lead trainer for the Love to Move programme (pic British Gymnastics Foundation)

Kim Hall is part of ‘Love to Move’, the British Gymnastics Foundation’s popular seated activity programme used by many older people across Cambridgeshire, but which has now been made available online for free and expanded to help more people during the current lockdown.

Hall is the lead deliverer of the nationwide programme designed to get older people moving and functioning better by increasing strength, flexibility, co-ordination and stimulating the brain.

The majority of the programme is based on movement patterns, which work the left and right sides of the brain separately, benefiting older people and particularly those living with dementia and mild cognitive impairment.

Two online sessions have been made available by the Foundation, partner charity of national governing body, British Gymnastics, with more free sessions to follow.

Hazel Green has been a regular attendee of Love to Move since Kim started the programme in her care home (pic British Gymnastics Foundation)Hazel Green has been a regular attendee of Love to Move since Kim started the programme in her care home (pic British Gymnastics Foundation)

With those likely to benefit most currently isolating at home, the programme, which has also been adapted to allow for social interaction ‘to screen’, can now benefit more lives than ever before.

Hall, who features in the online classes, said: “The best thing about delivering Love to Move is seeing people’s quality of life improve. To see someone moving again, feeding themselves and re-engaging with their loved ones, and to see them visibly appear younger, brighter, more confident and happier is such a privilege.

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“Putting the programme online and making it free will open it up to more people who are self-isolating and who need to keep physically and mentally active the most during these difficult times.”

Love to Move, which is supported by Age UK and The Alzheimer’s Society, started as a pilot project in 2015 and was trialled in care homes and community settings across the UK.

The programme uses seated activities to help older people with their memory, balance, flexibility and finger dexterity, and it has already seen a marked improvement in many of its regular participants.

Hazel Green, 97, has been a regular attendee of Love to Move since Kim started the programme in her care home (Hunter’s Down Care Home). Her daughter Gill said: “Before my mum started the Love to Move programme, she’d broken her hip, struggled to talk and couldn’t concentrate or do much for herself.

“Since getting involved in Love to Move she is knitting again, can have a proper conversation and is much brighter – she won’t miss the sessions for anything. The benefits I’ve seen in her have been absolutely phenomenal and I would put it all down to Love to Move.”

The programme has since been rolled out across the UK but due to the current situation and requirement for the vulnerable and older people to remain in their homes, British Gymnastics Foundation made the decision to release the resource for free online.

Former British Olympic gymnasts Kristian Thomas and Craig Heap are ambassadors for the programme and the Love to Move session is available to view at britishgymnasticsfoundation.org or via British Gymnastics’ YouTube channel.

Additional sessions will be uploaded in the coming weeks and alongside the video resource, the Foundation have created a Love to Move booklet, which includes some of the exercises that make the programme unique. Go to britishgymnasticsfoundation.org/lovetomove to download.