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General News · 26th February 2024
Mercedes Grant
Accessible Physical Activity & Exercise for Ageing Well

Engaging in physical activity and exercise can have dramatic impacts on our holistic health and well-being as we age. From maintaining mobility and balance, to lowering our risk of chronic illness and disease, incorporating regular physical activity into daily life can help seniors (and everyone!) maintain independence and improve overall quality of life.

Maintaining Physical Function: Regular physical activity helps maintain muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance, which are essential for performing daily tasks and activities as we age.

Preventing Chronic Diseases: Engaging in physical activity can help prevent or manage chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and arthritis. It can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Weight Management: Physical activity helps control weight by burning calories and maintaining lean muscle mass. This is especially important as metabolism tends to slow down with age, making weight management more challenging.

Improving Mental Health: Exercise releases endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that help reduce stress and improve mood. Physical activity has been linked to a lower risk of depression and anxiety, as well as improved cognitive function and overall well-being.

Enhancing Mobility and Balance: As we age, there is a natural decline in balance and coordination, which can increase the risk of falls and injuries. Regular physical activity, including exercises that focus on balance and flexibility, can help maintain mobility and reduce the risk of falls.

Social Engagement: Participating in group activities or exercise classes can provide opportunities for social interaction and support, which are important for mental and emotional well-being. It’s important to note that the current covid-19 pandemic may limit the safety of being in physical spaces with others. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives, including online spaces and taking necessary precautions before being in physical spaces including wearing high-grade medical masks to limit transmission.

While it might be easy to say that everyone can benefit from exercise, the reality is that for many folks, certain types of physical activity may not be accessible. It’s important to consider how our society limits and even silences the perspectives and voices of folks with limited physical and mental capacities, and disabilities. It’s vital to consider that not everyone will have the ability to run, walk, take exercise classes and/or be fully mobile, and from there, we can consider a wider range of options for physical exercise and activity. Cortes Island has the additional benefit of offering a stunning natural environment and cleaner air, so that exercise outdoors seems like a no-brainer, but even so, there are plenty of limitations to keep in mind, including intermittent weather and rough terrain.

The following list includes a variety of ideas and resources for more accessible physical activity, with the understanding that every body has unique needs and abilities.


Pilates is a type of physical exercise that focuses on strengthening the body, particularly the core muscles, while also improving flexibility, balance, and overall body awareness. It was developed by the Greek-German Joseph Pilates, while he was interned in a prisoner camp in Britain during WWI. Pilates exercises are typically performed on a mat or using specialized equipment such as the Reformer, Cadillac, and Wunda Chair, and emphasize controlled movements, proper alignment, and mindful breathing. Pilates targets the deep muscles of the abdomen and back, known as the "core" muscles, but it also engages other muscle groups throughout the body. It is often practiced as a low-impact workout suitable for people of all fitness levels, including athletes, dancers, seniors, and those recovering from injuries.

WATCH: History of Pilates, PBS

WATCH: Pilates & HIIT Workout, Plus Size and Beginner Friendly (no equipment, at home)

WATCH: Gentle Pilates (appropriate for someone with MS and/or in a wheelchair)

WATCH: 20 Minute Full Body Pilates for Beginners (no equipment, at home)


Yoga // Chair, Restorative & Yin

Yoga is an ancient, whole body, somatic practice with traditional roots in India. Science has proven what traditional cultures knew for millenia: that yoga can be a highly effective practice for reducing stress and building strength and resilience in the body and mind. While there’s much to be said about the colonization and appropriation of yoga by “the West” (here’s a good, honest place to start &, this practice is undoubtedly popular because it works.

Breath, meditation and physical practice combine to create a holistic practice that can be adapted for folks with various physical and mental abilities including the use of a chair for modifications, “yin” which includes less physical forms held for longer periods of time and supported with bolsters and cushions, and restorative yoga, which can be effective for engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, and offering deep stretching and rest for the whole body.

WATCH: Gentle Yoga with Farah Nazarali & Yoga Outreach

WATCH: Chair Yoga with Adriene

ATTEND (in-person, Cortes Island):

Movement and Mobility
DATE: Thursdays
TIME: 11:00am
LOCATION: Om Studio, upstairs Manson’s Hall
This class focuses on small isolated movements and exercises to help keep mobility and movement in the joints. No previous yoga experience necessary.

Soft Gentle Yoga
DATE: Wednesdays
TIME: 2:00pm
LOCATION: Gorge Hall
This class focuses on the breath and alignment. No previous yoga experience needed.

Choose To Move Program // Curated Resources Backed By Scientific Research

Here is an excellent resource listing of exercises and practices to cultivate key conditioning for the body, through the Choose To Move program - a free in-person fitness coaching program for seniors. Supported by UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health.

Bone & Joint Health:
Endurance & Heart Health:
Chair Exercises:

Your Happy Back - *FREE* Presentation & Self-Treatment Workshop w/Sean Lymworth, RMT
DATE: April (2 sessions - exact date TBD)
LOCATION: Manson’s Hall

Please sign up with Ester if you’re interested, so they can decide which room to rent in Manson’s Hall. Register by email or call 250-204-2116

Cortes Island Walking Group //

DATE: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
TIME: 9:00am - 9:30am/10:00am
LOCATION: meet at Manson’s Hall parking lot

If you’re in need of physical support in your home, you can sign up for the Better at Home Program, and we’ll set you up with some help! It is free for low income seniors, and market rate for seniors with an income above the BC average. You can read more about it here: