Kate Joester is a Project Coordinator for Walking Connects in Scotland

She lays out a few ways older people can make sure they keep active during lockdown and while shielding from COVID-19. 


Older people
Older people

In these strange days, many older people are feeling stuck between being at higher risk from the coronavirus, and being more likely to suffer from isolation and loneliness when remaining at home. Some will be missing hillwalking and vigorous exercise, others worried that not being able to walk to the shops mean they risk losing mobility which they were struggling to maintain. And like everyone else, older people will be missing the sun (and perhaps even the wind and rain!) and the simple pleasure of being where other people are.

So what can older people do this National Walking Month to keep walking, keep active and keep well? And how can friends and family support older people, particularly if they need to do this from a distance?

For those who are able and feel safe, taking a daily walk outside has become a highlight. You might want to think about your route in advance and plan for resting places if you need them; alternatively, you might want to plan for a challenging walk if you’re used to being more active than the current restrictions allow. You will also want to think about what the nicest way would be to spend this precious time outdoors! Are there green spaces within walking distance? Places where you can listen to birdsong? Alternatively, some usually busy streets, particularly those where shops are closed, are much quieter than usual and might make good walking space if you live nearby, particularly if you’re looking for a flatter walk on better pavements.

If you’re able to get online, you can use Google Maps and Google Street View to plan walks and find out if there are likely to be any challenges – or ask online family members to help you plan. Now is a great time to explore your neighbourhood, while keeping a safe social distance.


If you’re in a vulnerable group and need to stay indoors, you can still stay walking fit: 


  • Avoid sitting for long stretches at a time – perhaps set an alarm for an hourly exercise, whether that’s a walk around the house or a dance to the radio.

  • If you have mobility problems, you could make strength and balance exercises part of your daily routine, to make sure you stay on your feet. 

  • Build a little bit of walking into your home – if you have a garden, put a bird feeder at the far end, and fill it each day. Make sure you have a clear path through the house by putting furniture to the side and checking that there isn’t anything you are likely to trip over. Don’t bring the biscuit tin or fruit bowl to your seat – make sure you always have to go to the kitchen for a snack!

  • If you can access a step counter on a watch or mobile phone app, try setting yourself a daily step challenge. You could add some interest with a target to climb a certain distance on the stairs or walk the length of a particular journey in a week, or through the length of the lockdown. Perhaps you could share the challenge with family members, even if you can’t be together in person.

  • If imaginary walks aren’t your thing, try walking on the spot for the length of a favourite television programme (or just from one ad break to the next).






NHS Inform has a thorough guide to finding the right set of exercises. Music is always a great motivator for exercise, so get some favourite tunes on while you work.


A mile is a bit over 2,000 steps for an average person. If you can manage that in a day, in three weeks of quarantine you could walk the length of the island of Barbados (21 miles), or in the seven weeks of lockdown so far you could have walked round Loch Ness (53 miles).

There are 287 steps to the top of the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, or 246 in the Wallace Monument. That’s about 24 or 20 flights of stairs respectively.

There are some brilliant general suggestions for older people to stay active and positive in the lockdown, from the Luminate Festival’s Luminate at Home to a brilliant wee video from ROAR called “Lock-down, not Sit-down”.


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