WHILE schoolchildren across the country have become familiar with fitness gurus like Joe Wicks putting them through their paces online, communities unused to technology, or with poor internet access, have struggled to access similar resources during the pandemic.

But things are changing.

Thanks to a grant from NHS charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal, Hywel Dda Health charities has been able to purchase a range of exercise equipment and DVDs to help frail and chronically ill patients in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

Hywel Dda Health charities’ purchase of special equipment has meant people who have been unable to attend exercise referral classes can improve their fitness and reduce the risk of injury through falls from their own homes.

The NHS frailty and chronic conditions team for the region said it was extremely grateful for the equipment.

A range of exercise DVDs and resistance bands were purchased, which are progressive and include seated and standing exercises to help promote strength, mobility, balance and wellbeing to enable people to live independently, be able to manage household tasks and reduce the incidence of falls.

Sarah Pask, a frailty nurse, said: “The equipment is being used in the community to support people who used to attend exercise referral classes but who are unable to connect with the service during lockdown because they have no or poor access to the internet.

“Also, in the home environment, with patients currently seen by the frailty team, the equipment is helping to address loss of stamina and de-conditioning due to the COVID pandemic and/or shielding that has lessened normal exercise opportunities.”

The equipment was distributed to a range of clients and has been very well received.

Sarah added: “We needed some form of strength and balance programme that clients could follow, which wasn’t online.

"Many of our falls prevention clients are not on the internet and if they are, have limited usage. One client lives six miles from his nearest town, is unable to drive and has very poor internet access. The DVD has enabled him to continue his twice weekly exercise sessions that he used to attend, pre-lockdown.

“Other clients have also relished being able to follow real-life people and the opportunity to engage with positive activity to help maintain their physical and mental health. We have also supported clients who have seen a decline in their physical status as a result of lockdown and who needed a progressive exercise programme to re-engage with exercise.”