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Virtual Armchair Exercise classes have continued to be provided to local care home residents (and staff) on behalf of NHS Western Isles throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

To help local care homes encourage their residents to retain and improve their physical and mental health, a series of weekly Armchair Exercise classes were provided to each care home throughout the Outer Hebrides. 

NHS Western Isles says that: "The classes have hugely benefited residents, with staff commenting on how they have shown to aid sleep, improve mental health and continue socially distanced interaction.  In addition, the classes have also helped in decreasing the risk of injury and improving overall cognitive function."

Led by Marion Matheson, NHS Western Isles Health Improvement Practitioner, the classes last approximately 45 minutes.  This is made up of a 30 minute exercise class with a further 15 minutes for conversation and questions.   

Marion, who is also trained in the MacMillan ‘Move More’ programme, said “There are many benefits to taking part in the Armchair Exercise classes.  This includes the improvement to balance, aiding sleeping patterns and soothing aches and pains as well as promoting mindfulness/relaxation.  

“The classes can help someone who is recovering from medical treatment, or is inactive.  We are also aware that the classes have not only improved residents’ mental and physical health, but have also established a support network between the local Care Homes themselves.” 

ll care home managers across the Western Isles have expressed their sincere gratitude to NHS Western Isles for the provision of these classes.  Floriann MacLean, Manager of St. Brendan’s Care Home in Barra, said “Service users really look forward to the exercise class and really enjoy the interaction with Marion.” 

On Uist, Sarah MacKay, Senior Social Care Worker of Taigh ȧ Chridhe Uile Naomh Care Home, said: “It gives residents a boost and helps lift their spirits, and they engage well with it.” 

A resident from Blar Buidhe Care Home in Stornoway also said, “It’s lovely to be able to do something physical. It’s good for the soul!”

Donald MacIntosh, Manager of Blar Buidhe Care Home (where the pictures were taken) said staff would like to thank Marion as the classes are thoroughly enjoyed by all and help their residents feel more like part of the community. 

Further afield, Isabel Campbell, Manager of Leverburgh Care Home, said “These classes promote the mental and physical wellbeing of our residents, so much so they look forward to it more each week.” 

Plans are underway to join the various classes as one large virtual class, which will help residents and staff across the Western Isles care homes interact and converse with each other, as well as with Marion.  For further information please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 01870 602588.