British Gymnastics' free seated sessions for older people

The British Gymnastics Foundation’s popular seated activity programme ‘Love to Move’ has been made available for free online to help older people stay physically and mentally active at home.

The programme is designed to get older people moving and functioning better, integrating the use of gymnastic foundation skills, cognitive stimulation therapy and social interaction activities. The majority of the programme is based on movement patterns which work the left and right sides of the brain separately, benefiting older people and particularly those living with dementia and mild cognitive impairment.

The Foundation, partner charity of British Gymnastics, has published the first session online and will be making additional sessions available on a regular basis. 

Patrick Bonner, Head of the British Gymnastics Foundation, said: “We have seen the positive impact Love to Move can have on the physical and cognitive aspects of older people in the last few years and we want to get the programme out to as many of those self-isolating as possible.

“This will mean that more people can feel the benefits and keep moving. We have already released the video of Kim Hall, our lead deliverer, so people can take part in sessions from their own home and will continue sharing resources online in the coming months.”

Love to Move started as a pilot project in 2015 and was trialled in care homes and community settings across the UK. The programme uses seated activities to help older people with their memory, balance, flexibility and finger dexterity, and it has already seen a marked improvement in many of its regular participants. Ricky from Wimbledon is shown using the programme at his own home.

It has since been rolled out across the UK but due to the current situation and requirement for the vulnerable and older people to remain in their homes, the Foundation made the decision to release the resource for free online. Former Olympians Kristian Thomas and Craig Heap are ambassadors for the programme.

Steve McFadyen, Sport and Leisure Programme Partnerships Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We welcome the British Gymnastics Foundation’s decision to find creative ways to reach even more people affected by dementia, to encourage them to move a little bit more and feel the benefits of being active at home. Around 95% of people with dementia are over 65, and as an ‘increased risk’ group they are being advised to be particularly careful of the ‘stay at home’ rules.”

The Love to Move session is available to view at or via British Gymnastics’ YouTube channel. Additional sessions will be uploaded in the coming weeks. The Foundation has also created a Love to Move booklet - download it here.