Start by moving in bed or sitting on a chair

When you can’t move very well to exercise on “dry land,” then consider starting in the water:  the shower, a tub, or local therapy pool while holding onto something very sturdy and wearing water shoes for your safety.*

When you can’t move very well to exercise at all, we can start right where we are in a chair or bed!*

What can you do that will make a difference when lying in bed or sitting on a chair?  Palenty!  Try these gentle movements to help keep the complications of inactivity away (like muscle wasting, blood clots, and deconditioning, oh my!).*

exercise in bed, overhead reach, stretch, before you get out of bed, bedridden, bed bound, stretch

  • Lightly stroke or massage your arms, your legs, your tummy, your feet, your hands, your face, your neck, and shoulders.
  • Take a few deep breaths such that your belly puffs out and rib cage expands to the side (not up and down).  Breathe in slow-and-low if possible.  (See HERE for more information on breathing techniques.)
  • Reach up towards the ceiling/wall, out to the sides, and down a few times each.  Don’t force any movements or bounce your arms.  Everything should be slow and controlled TO but not THROUGH the point of discomfort.
  • Copy the same movements with your legs, one at a time even if a few inches off of the bed or chair when first starting out.
  • Bend and straighten the arms at every joint as tolerated:  elbows, wrists, fingers.  Rotate the wrists; turn the palms up then turn them down.
  • Bend and straighten the legs at every joint as tolerated:  knees, ankles, toes.  Rotate the ankles; turn the feet in towards one another then away from one another.
  • If there are no back pain spinal, or disc issues, gently roll your hips side to side then hike them up and down a few times.*
  • Pump your ankles against the floor then your legs (as if marching, yes even if in bed by sliding your heels up towards you then away from you).
  • Get out of bed, stand up using your legs, and go get a drink of water.  You’ve done it and you’re done!  Congratulations!

* Please consult with a healthcare practitioner who knows you well before beginning any exercise program to determine if it is right for your needs.  Follow any recommended restrictions or precautions over and above these Active Tips and check our Disclaimer for more information.


Smart home, better health

Amazon, Alexa, smart home, devices, assistive technology, age in place, medication reminders, social isolation, older adults, aging

From AHS Magazine,* Summer 2018

Smart home devices can make life easier around the house, but what if they could also improve one’s health?  BHIS research assistant professor, Jessie Chin, is collaborating on a project with Kelly Quinn in the UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that examines the use of smart home devices for health promotion among older adults.

Smart home devices, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, allow users to speak to the device to request information, such as the news and weather, or give commands, such as playing music.

“People tend to use these devices as a personal assistant to manage their life, but the functions could help promote their lifestyle for better health, ” said Chin, who’s conducted interdisciplinary research in cognitive science, human-computer interaction and human factors, with a focus on human-information interaction across the lifespan.

“People could add reminders to serve as memory aids — they could tell the devices where they stored their keys and ask them later, or set a reminder to take medications with the time and date, ”  she said.

The devices can also be utilized to manage lifestyle.  “Older adults tend to have sedentary behavior, so they could set reminders to take a walk regularly, for example.”

Quinn, who focuses her research on the social implications of technology use, plans to examine how the devices could be used to enhance social well-being and reduce loneliness among older adults.

“Social connection is really important at older ages,” Quinn said.  “We know that when older adults are disconnected and lonely, there is a greater incidence of cognitive decline, depression and early mortality.

“There are some interesting things that happen when we age — we retire and lose social connections, we lose spouses and friends who have died.  There’s mobility limitations and higher incidences of chronic disease.  All of these things are connected to the decline in the ability to connect with people.”

Smart home devices could help improve quality of life, Quinn said.

*For Alumni & Friends of the College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago

The Technical Side of Green


There probably isn’t a person big or small that doesn’t like the view of a lush countryside, bubbling brook, or vibrancy of the Fall colors in the Midwest to brighten his or her day. “Natural elements grab and hold our attention in effortless ways, even in urban settings,” and this has a profound beneficial effect on us according to research by Dr. William Sullivan, Professor and Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture at University of Illinois.  In his book chapter* entitled, “In Search of a Clear Head,” Dr. Sullivan shares research supporting the premise that:

It is clear that being in or looking onto a green space can improve people’s ability to focus their attention. But is the effect of green space on attention useful to a variety of people under a variety of circumstances? The evidence shows that a wide range of people benefit from exposure to green spaces. Studies have demonstrated links between green spaces and higher performance on attentional tasks in public housing residents, AIDS caregivers, cancer patients, college students, prairie restoration volunteers, and employees of large organizations.

Green spaces help us to recover from mental fatigue, help us make better decisions, and behave with less irritability. Simply put for our homes, work, schools, and communities:

               We need nature at every doorstep!

Further, the more senses that are engaged, generally the more stress reduction occurs as well. In one study, students looking out a classroom window onto a natural space had the power to improve test accuracy TENFOLD! So why are we sending students into windowless classrooms? This is something important to think about as we craft study and workspaces at home and in our communities.

So you might ask if these benefits would include an adult playing golf? A child engaged in athletic team sports? “Yes” for the golf although probably more from the exercise than the putting “greens,” and “No” for outdoor sports. Although the playing field may be a green space and it is usually good to be outdoors, the benefits are better during unstructured activities. Better examples would include walking in display gardens (!), growing a few vegetables, viewing natural waterways, and even observing animals in their native habitats. Taking a walk outside is generally a good idea for many reasons yet in another study, only students who walked in an arboretum showed statistically better test scores than ones who walked in the downtown area of their college town.**

To boost the restorative benefits of everyday contact with gardens and green spaces, view and actively engage in those spaces around you. Such is the heart of the Master Gardener program at Cooperative Extension Offices throughout the United States!  Trained volunteers engage the public in educational, exploratory, and experiential gardening activities:  the fun and heart of what we do as Master Gardeners for persons young and old. A little “dose of nature” is a great low-tech idea for all of us.

Julie, O.T.

Advanced Master Gardener

*Fostering Reasonableness: Supportive Environments for Bringing Out Our Best; Edited by Rachel Kaplan and Avik Basu.

**Based upon William Sullivan’s lecture entitled “Attention Restoration” presented at Gardens that Heal: A Prescription for Wellness; Chicago Botanical Garden, 5.10.17.

brook, bubbling, Fall, Midwest, Indiana, Master Gardener, photo, yellow, orange, green, rocks, river, stream, Pufferbelly, Trail, Path