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How new website is helping the elderly stay active during Covid-19

Associate Professor Michele Callisaya played a key role in launching the ‘Safe Exercise At Home’ website.

A Peninsula Health physiotherapist and senior research fellow has helped launch a website that encourages elderly people to stay active at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Associate Professor Michele Callisaya was one of a number of Australian clinicians and physiotherapy researchers involved in developing the website, called ‘Safe Exercise At Home’ (www.safeexerciseathome.org.au).

Michele says the website concept arose out of shared concerns about the vulnerability of elderly people during the Covid-19 lockdown laws.

“We all got together because we were worried, anecdotally from both our family and clients, that older people were not able to do their normal gym sessions, bowls or incidental physical activity each day,” Michele says.

“Elderly people might get stiffer, their muscles might get weaker and their balance might decline – all of which can lead to falls.”

“So the idea was to try and provide information to keep people as active as possible during this time.”

A key feature of the website, which is endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association, is that the exercises are spread across three distinct levels of function and fitness – ‘foundation’, ‘moderate’ and ‘advanced’.

“We wanted to put something out there that was accessible and could provide people with exercise advice, particularly at a range of different functional levels,” Michele says.

“A lot of the websites currently online only provide exercises for one level of function and don’t really say who they’re appropriate for.”

Safe Exercise At Home also provides a number of safety tips to prevent injuries, alongside various motivational tips and success stories.

The website, which launched on 5 May 2020, had over 14,000 visits in its first week.

Collaborators include physiotherapists from the University of Sydney, University of Melbourne, Monash University, Curtin University, University of South Australia, University of Queensland and University of Tasmania, alongside the National Ageing Research Institute, Sydney Local Health District, Western Health and Peninsula Health.

For more information go to www.safeexerciseathome.org.au.