Vivienne Harrison (74)

Chair Dance Instructor shows the class the moves over zoom.

I have always tried to be active but an experience a few years ago really highlighted how important it is to keep moving as you get older.

Before my first knee replacement in 2006 I saw a physio who recommended that I did some exercises prior to the operation to strengthen my legs. I did do some exercises and started to go swimming each week but I didn't do the exercises regularly and after the operation I had to go to physio 38 times and so the recovery was really slow. Before my second knee replacement I made sure that I did the exercises regularly as well as continuing to go swimming. As a result I only had 5 physio sessions after the 2nd knee replacement.

Before lockdown I regularly attended both chair dance and chair yoga which are both ran by Bedford Council. I knew Maz (the instructor) from when she took the Thursday classes at Bedford Central Library when Margo was unable to. I'd enjoyed those classes. I also went swimming once a week and me and my husband both walk a lot around Bromham and further afield. My husband David (77) would walk for miles and has written about local walks all his life.

Another benefit to joining an exercise class is that you meet new people. We moved to Bedford in 2014 after living in a rural area of Lincolnshire following our retirement in 2001. We moved from the South Coast, a very busy area between Eastbourne and Brighton to somewhere quiet, but as we got older it became difficult - over 10 miles to the nearest supermarket, no buses and the highlight of the week was the mobile fish and chip shop van calling!

During lockdown I did virtual sessions and we both still went for our one hour walk. I did find the virtual sessions a little frustrating at the beginning but it's really nice to have the catch up at the end with everyone and to have that sense of a community (albeit virtually) and talk to others who attended the group.

I would encourage others to join a chair dance group as it will help to widen their social circle and the exercises could help with balance problems, anyone on the waiting list for a new knee/s could benefit from the leg exercises particularly as they help strengthen the legs. All the exercises help to keep the body moving, the balance exercises can help prevent too many falls. For everyone, including people with memory problems, doing the exercise to well known music/songs helps with co-ordination.

As an Active Bedfordshire Ambassador I champion anyone in their 70s to get active because it will help you recover from operations quicker and keep you more mobile. If you try a class virtually at home don't worry nobody can see you! If you are doing it in a class don't worry we are all the same – we all have something that needs working on.!

After lockdown eases we will be going back to normal sessions rather than virtually because we like the social interaction as well as the exercise.

If you would like to take part in the Bedford Sport LIVE- Activity sessions at home please click here for all the details.