Research announced today, on International Day of Older Persons (Tuesday 1 October, 2019) reveals that more than three quarters of over-65s do not meet the recommended exercise targets. This is despite the warnings that sedentary behaviour is linked to 70,000 deaths in the UK every year.
A survey commissioned by local leisure operator, Everyone Active, which operates seven leisure centres in partnership with Westminster City Council, revealed 78% of over-65s are not achieving the amount of weekly activity advised by the NHS, which includes 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and two days of strength exercise. Regular exercise can help to lower blood pressure and maintain stronger bones, muscles and joints, as well as lowering the risk of developing osteoporosis.
In response to this, Everyone Active has launched its ‘Age Is Just A Number’ campaign to engage older people in Westminster. Throughout October, it will celebrate its older members by showcasing their fitness stories and proving what can be achieved by staying active into later life.
From Monday 28th October – Friday 1st November, Everyone Active is also opening its doors to everyone over the age of 65 to enjoy a free gym or swimming session at any of its Westminster sites including: Porchester Centre (W2), Marshall Street (W1), Queen Mother Sports Centre (SW1), Little Venice Sports Centre (W2), Seymour Leisure Centre (W1), Moberly Sports Centre (NW10) and Paddington Recreation Ground (W9).
Of all the activities favoured by over 65s, the survey saw walking come out on top, with 59% saying they take a daily stroll. Swimming followed in second but was significantly less prevalent, with only 12% saying they take the plunge.
Despite the popularity of gym-based activity among other age groups, just 8% of those surveyed said they attended a gym while only 4% reported playing golf.
Cllr Iain Bott, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Sports, Culture and Community said: “Westminster's leisure centres are excellent places to get fit whatever your age, with year-round free swimming and heavily discounted classes for residents who are over 60 it couldn't be easier. As well as getting fit our centres are hubs for social interaction and a great place to make new friends."
Cllr Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Family Services and Public Health, said: “We already run specific programmes for older people living with dementia such as our recent dementia bikes scheme that saw some of our care home residents take part in a race against 200 teams from around the world. Exercise brings many social and health benefits for older people, so we would encourage everyone to visit their local leisure centre to take up an activity that they can enjoy.”
Andy Davison, Everyone Active Contract Manager said: “This research proves there is still a lot of work needed to improve activity levels among people aged 65 and over in the local community. It’s our aim to create a friendly, welcoming environment that motivates people of all ages to get active. I would urge older people to take the opportunity to visit our centre free of charge and discover the many different ways to enjoy being active.”
Everyone Active is also on the search for a ‘face of older people’s activity’. It is on a quest to find an individual who proves gyms, swimming pools and everything in between are there for people of all ages to enjoy. For more information or to make a nomination, visit www.everyoneactive.com/AgeIsJustANumber.