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Health & wellbeing

Over the last year, we’ve all had more time at home than we’d like. How can we keep our bodies and minds in shape during the pandemic? 

Ruth Steinberg talks to a family about their fitness and we sharesome tips to keep fit and well at home.



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March 2021

Peter Craven, is 84 and has always been active. He’s a keen sportsman, walker and he’s a dab hand at DIY. However, the last year has been very different.Like many older, Peter has found himself at home more because of Covid restrictions. How to stay fit and healthy? Luckily, Peter’s grandson Paul is a Health & Wellbeing Coach with Active Leeds – a project from Leeds City Council. Paul has been on hand to support Peter and help him stay connected online. 

Because of Covid I have had to go into lockdown, so I've not
been able to go out as much.
I still do exercise
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Ruth Steinberg spoke to Peter and Paul together, about ways to stay active during the pandemic. 
Ruth: Tell me about how you stay fit? 
Peter: I’m a very active man. I have been all my life. I’m 85 next week and don’t do so bad. I try and keep as fit as I possibly can. Because of Covid I’ve had to go down into lockdown, so I’m not getting out as much. I still do exercise. I work in the house and garden and things like that. I like playing golf with my grandson Paul. I used to go long distance walking. I’ve been to Scotland, Ireland and Wales walking. I’ve done all the Lake District. I’ve climbed all the big mountains in Ireland. I started all this when I was 50 years old. Before that I played golf and I liked fishing as well. I’ve looked after my kids and the grandchildren - I’m a big helper of people. I help them with their money, with advice. I do gardens for people. I’ve got 3 gardens to do both sides of me. 
Paul: You do mine too.
Peter: And I like travelling. I’ve been all over Europe travelling. Down to the South of France.
Ruth: Lockdown must have been really difficult. 
Peter: It has been. I’ve had 12 months when I can’t do the kind of exercise I used to do. I’ve lost it. If I tried to do a 10 or 12 mile walk, I don’t think I could do it. I used to go down from Shipley to Leeds regularly. It’s 13 mile. As soon as we come out of lockdown I’m going to have a bash at that. I do it in 3 hours and 40 minutes. That’s 3 miles an hour, a very good speed. I’m a walker and I know how to do it, when to rest, when to rehydrate and things like that. I like puzzles. I do sudoku and play chess. I look after my mind and I look after my body. One of my downfalls is my diet. I like food so much. I’m on a restricted diet as it is. I’ve just had a diabetic test. It’s gone up a bit. I’ve not been able to burn the thing off. I can sit in front of the television doing mind games. It’s not doing me good physically. 

Ruth: What would your advice be to people who are stuck inside? 

Peter: Get out and do some exercise. What I did one day was do a walk from West Kirby to somewhere in the Wirral and took photos all the way. I put them on the internet and it got 15 to 20 thousand hits. I think I did a bit of good there. I joined a walking club that went on Dalesrail. I’ve been a member for 30 years. How I got on to that was I worked on the railroad as a train driver. I used to take the trains up up into the Dales. I thought I will come here when I can. When you go walking you have to plan it all out. You can plan to get a bus to the top of a mountain and then walk down. I used to walk up hills when I was a young lad. 
Ruth: Paul, you’re leading classes online, is that right? 
Paul: Yes, through Leeds City Council Active Leeds programmes. I do the Keeping Well at Home exercise classes and some use the Keep Moving app as well. 
Peter: I’ve got things from Paul. He said just have a look the leaflet Keeping Well at Home. There’s loads of tips in it. I can always recommend this.I’m a doer not a reader. I’d sooner do it myself. I’d rather go out walking. You can lose the will. I’ve got loads of things I can do. I’ve got a sewing machine and I’m going to make some curtains. I’m building a shed in the garden for my carpentry work, 16 ft long by 8ft high. That’s my next project that. There’s always something to do. If I feel a bit fed up there’s always something, I can turn to to occupy my mind. If lockdown wasn’t there I would be outside. 
Ruth: Paul, I bet you’re proud of your grandad. 
Paul: I certainly am. He’s one in a million. We both keen golfers. He’s the only person I know that did two hole-in-ones in one day. Between the first and second lock down we did a few rounds of golf.  We go to the driving range when we can. 
Peter: I’m a good mixer I can talk to anybody. You can talk and see what they think. I saw a lot as a driver on the trains. I’d talk to people. All my life I’ve helped people. I’m on my own most of the day. I’m ok. I feel comfortable in what I’m doing. You’ve got to do the right thing. 
Ruth: Finally, what would you like to say to people reading this? 
Peter: In the olden days you’d write a letter, and it would take a few days to get there. Now you can talk to people on the other side of the planet. What I have seen in my life - you wouldn’t believe it.  I’ve had operations on my heart and had pacemakers put in. I would have been dead years ago. Modern science is wonderful. Read this booklet Keeping Well at Home and give it a try. Even grandkids could learn something. 

At home but active

Every month the Health Improvement Team at Leeds City Council provide some helpful information about how older people can keep well. This month Sharon Hughes focuses on staying active at home.

Maintaining strength and balance
As people age it becomes more important to maintain or build strength and balance to help prevent falls. This is even more important if you are self-isolating or ‘shielding’ due to Covid-19 and not managing to get out and about as much as normal. Simple exercises that you can do in your own home both seated and standing are advised to keep yourself mobile. Even just rising from your chair to a standing position and moving arms and legs every hour can make a significant difference. If you are concerned about falling or have a fall, then it is advisable to speak to somebody, often things can be done to prevent falls, they are not inevitable. Contact your GP for medical advice if you have concerns or feel dizzy at all.

Digital inclusion
The strength and balance programme offered by Active Leeds has been working with 100% DigitalLeeds to improve their offer for older people through a new equipment lending scheme. Anyone accessing the Active Leeds programme will now be offered the opportunity to access videos and exercise sessions digitally. The equipment (tablets) come with internet data already set up and a range of other tools to support you in maintaining your health and wellbeing.
We know that the pandemic has made it difficult for a lot of us to stay active, especially when shielding, so this programme aims to help people keep moving within their homes, develop digital skills and confidence, and stay connected.

Getting support
Local neighbourhood network schemes have access to information leaflets and services to help, Leeds Directory can be contacted on 0113 378 4610 for further information on how to access these.

If you have a computer more information can be found at: or
One You Leeds is a free local health service designed to support Leeds residents to start and maintain a healthy lifestyle. One You Leeds are delivering a limited service at this time but continue to provide support for stopping smoking, weight management, healthy eating support, physical activity and health coaching. Clinics can be delivered by telephone. People can self-refer to the service by calling 0800 169 4219.

You can also access the Home Plus service for advice as well as assessments for things to help around the home to prevent falls.

Home Plus Leeds
The Home Plus Leeds service is for those who may be at risk of falling, who are struggling to heat their home or pay heating bills, who need help with repairs that are causing a hazard in their home or who need information and advice to maintain independence. The Home Plus Service offers a comprehensive home assessment
to identify needs and includes the installation of rails and equipment to reduce the risk of further falls. The service covers servicing and repairs to heating and hot water systems, as well as help in changing to the cheapest energy deal. Free energy saving equipment, draught proofing and insulation measures are part of the service, aswell as assistance with hazard repairs for home owners.

Home Plus also offer advice and support. Contact your GP if you think you are entitled to free Vitamin D supplement and you haven’t had a letter.
To access services call: 0113 240 6009 or Email:

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