Everyone has made tough decisions and sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic. A majority of our Tandem Strength & Balance clients are in the high-risk category due to their age and/or health complications so it was expected that some would decide to stop all visitors from coming into their home and place their exercise on hold. One of our clients shares his decision and journey through the pandemic.
Prior to COVID-19
George, an 80-year-old stroke survivor, had been exercising with Tandem Strength & Balance for less than a year. He had worked very hard to accomplish his goals. George always knew he could improve his function but he needed the emphasis on leg strength training and more time that TandemSB provides. After six months with Tandem Strength & Balance he was climbing stairs to get out of his house, walking independently and enjoying life the way he wanted to live it.
When the Governor issued the shelter-in-place order, George’s family made the difficult decision to put Tandem Strength & Balance on hold. They planned to have their caregiver assist George with the exercises we provided.
After three months, we received a call asking us to restart services. Even though they were still concerned about the virus, George’s mobility was declining and he was depressed.
Three big changes occurred during his three-month break:
- Posture: George quickly lost strength in his core and began leaning forward while standing. This caused the return of his shoulder pain as he resorted to using more arm strength to support himself while using his walker. This core muscle weakness also increased his risk of falls.
- Transfers: George began to struggle to get up from his chairs. This was due to his loss of leg strength. Without adequate leg strength, he had begun to rely on his arms rather than legs.
- Walking: George started taking smaller steps when walking, walking less and eventually stopped walking by himself. This inadequate leg strength increased his risk of falls, as well.
COVID–19 & Exercise
Within two weeks of restarting exercise with Tandem Strength & Balance, George’s posture started to improve and he began to get up easier from chairs. The family did not regret their decision to stop his exercise due to the virus but were surprised how quickly his mobility declined. I always bring this reality back to science; everyone starts losing strength within 3-5 days from when they stop exercising. Even though he was trying to exercise with his caregiver, George struggled with consistency and pushing himself.
These are difficult times and while limiting contact with others during the COVID–19 pandemic is often a wise decision, there are obvious costs, as well. If you are concerned about your loved one’s failing health due to lack of exercise, please contact us to discuss those concerns. You, like George’s family, may be witnessing the loss of physical strength creating a higher risk for falls, depression and a lower-quality of life. We offer a Free In-home Consultation to help people understand why they are struggling and what steps can be taken to make life better.