The benefits of staying active and mobile on your physical and mental wellbeing as you age are manifold:
- Helps your memory
- Makes you feel happier
- Keeps your muscles and bones strong
- Social and enjoyable
- Can help to reduce the pain caused by arthritis
- Can help control blood pressure
Active Norfolk, with support from Norfolk County Council Public Health, has increased the activity levels of older people living in sheltered housing and residential care settings through the Mobile Me project, with an aim to normalise physical activity as part of the culture for older people living in these settings. The project predominantly focuses on the over 65s and is designed to address barriers to participation within this age group. Each programme is delivered over an initial 10 week period, where residents enjoy activities such as bowls, table tennis and new age kurling.
Activity is essentially anything that gets your body moving, and it can be anything from walking and housework to recreational sport. It's important to realise that if you haven't been active before, it's never too late to start, and that every 10 minutes of activity will have a positive effect upon attributes such as stamina, strength, flexibility and balance, which in turn can help with daily activities such as standing up from a chair and reduce the risk of falling as a result of this activity. As long as people build up gradually from their starting point, and consult with their GP before increasing activity levels significantly, then the health benefits are very positive.
As people get older it can become increasingly challenging to participate in physical activity and people may believe that certain health conditions mean they are no longer able to take part. There are many sports and exercises that can be adapted to address some barriers to participation, for example if people are wheelchair bound or if there are issues with balance/standing then there are a number of activities and exercises that can be performed whilst seated.
Ryan Hughes, Physical Activity Project Officer for Mobile Me said "Physical activity can support our older population in avoiding a range of health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as help them in managing pre-existing conditions, so the benefits of being active upon a person's quality of life can be huge."
"I believe we need to make the experience of being physically active enjoyable and as easy as possible. We do this by introducing activities that have an element of competition and encourage a high level of social interaction. They are delivered on site, in communal living areas and all of our activities can be adapted to address certain physical capabilities."