Keeping the Body Moving

Keeping the body moving when Cocooning

Keeping the body moving when Cocooning Standing from left to right: Aisling Smyth, Age Friendly Programme Manager - Community & Economic Development Section, Sligo County Council; Emer Concannon, Chair - Sligo Sports and Recreation Partnership; Deirdre Lavin, Coordinator - Sligo Sports and Recreation Partnership;
Seated from left to right: Ciarán Hayes, Chief Executive, Sligo County Council; Cllr Tom MacSharry, Cathaoirleach, Sligo County Council; Edel Brennan, Senior Community Physiotherapist, Health Services Executive;

A new physical activity initiative, primarily aimed at older adults who are cocooning, is being launched by HSE Community Physiotherapy, in partnership with the Age Friendly Alliance, Sport’s Partnerships and Public Participation Networks across Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan - Community Healthcare Organisation Area 1.

Cocooning is a way of protecting the people in our communities that are most at risk of serious illness.  Everyone over 70 years of age is advised to stay at home, even if they are well. Keeping the body moving is important for both our physical health and our mental wellbeing.  However, during this period of cocooning being active is more challenging; we may not be as active as we normally are and there are restrictions on the types of physical activity available to us.

As part of this initiative, older adults in our communities will receive a leaflet to their home, with a series of eight simple exercises to be completed twice daily.  The leaflet will include an image of each exercise, as well as an explanation of the movement involved.  To encourage daily use, a four week checklist is also included, to be ticked off as each set of exercises are completed.  It is hoped that these daily activities will continue after the four weeks.  If a leaflet doesn’t arrive to an older person’s home, a copy can be requested through: the Community Call Helpline 1800 292 765 Monday – Sunday 8.00am to 8.00pm; or by text SLIGO to 50100 followed by your request for a copy of the Ageing Well leaflet; or by email:

In addition to the leaflet, Ocean FM’s Francie Boylan Show will support this initiative by having a twice weekly slot on Tuesday and Thursday for the month of May, led by HSE Senior Community Physiotherapist – Edel Brennan, which older adults can tune into, to listen to the exercises being explained and join in if they wish.  These exercises of course are not just for the older adult! Other people with limited mobility may find them useful also.

While waiting on the leaflet to arrive, here are some useful ‘Top Tips on Movement for Cocooners’ to encourage movement in the home.

  • Stay as active as much as possible
  • Motion is Lotion! If your joints feel stiff and sore they will benefit from regular gentle movement.
  • Sit less, move more - Sitting for long periods is not helpful for our mental or physical health. If you are sitting, try to stand up every hour.
  • No matter what your level of ability or your age, movement will benefit you.
  • Moving regularly boosts our circulation and stops our bodies from feeling sluggish. Even a light march with our legs and/or a gentle arm swing for a few minutes can be helpful.
  • Build strength work into your daily routine. You can do this by lowering yourself into your chair as slowly as you can to build leg strength. Use your legs as much as possible, rather than your hands to get up from a chair. Strong legs make you steadier on your feet, so activities like climbing stairs and getting up from the floor become easier.
  • Build balance activities into your daily routine. This can be very beneficial, so you can step easily in different directions and react quickly if you trip.
  • Move regularly to stay strong, steady and straight.
  • Safety is important, work at your own pace, if something doesn’t feel right – don’t do it.

If you can do these exercises 2-3 times per day, on a daily basis, you will keep yourself healthy and strong, and prevent yourself from becoming de-conditioned.  This means that when this period of self-isolation is over, you will be able to get back to your normal activities more quickly.

For more information on Cocooning see


HSE - Community Physio leaflet - Sligo (PDF) - 970 kbs  PDF