Getting active and staying active may be one of the most important factors in maintaining our independence and keeping healthy and mobile. Once we start slowing down, it can become difficult to get active and moving again. Over the last month, we have partnered with cricket legend and philanthropist Ian Botham to help promote the benefits of physical exercise and get Britain moving more. But what does that mean? And what other initiatives and programs can we access to get support while we try to get mobile? In this week’s blogs, I’d like us to look at a range of services and schemes you can access if your mission is to move more.
The importance of staying active
Staying active and mobile becomes increasingly important that we stay mobile and active. As we age, our bodies can struggle to achieve the full mobility range that may seem effortless in our youth. Our muscles, tendons and joints are constantly under pressure when we move, and if not exercised regularly, they can become stiff and immobile. By remaining active we can help mitigate some of the damage that time does to our bodies, helping us to remain mobile and independent. Countless studies have shown the benefits of exercise later in life including reduced heart pressure, better sleep, improved cognition and memory, improved mood, and reduced risk of injury in day-to-day life.
Public health initiatives
As many of us are aware the NHS is currently struggling more than it has in its seventy-five years of existence to keep up with growing demand for its services. Getting a doctor’s appointment feels like panning for gold, and many of us either know someone or have experienced extreme waiting times for operations and procedures to take place. A large amount of the problems the NHS deals with are exacerbated by us not staying active. A recent government study showed that physical inactivity is associated with 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually.
In an effort to reduce strain on our health service, the NHS has put itself at the forefront of promoting physical wellbeing by rolling out several public health initiatives. One of the most prominent of these initiatives is the Change 4 Life scheme which was recently rebranded as the Healthier Families scheme. Healthier families helps promote staying healthy and active through a combination of exercise and a good varied diet. Their website has a range of recipes and tips to help get yourself and even your entire family up and active.
The NHS aren’t the only organisation that wants to help get Britain moving. Age UK is a charity organisation that offers advice and assistance to those in later life. Age UK has recognised the importance of exercise as we get older and in response are offering a range of free or subsidised exercise activities. You can use their website to find out what classes or activities may be available in your area. They run a series of activities including seated exercise, walking football, Zumba gold and organised walking groups, all great activities for those who want to get active without fear of injury. Age UK wants to help promote exercise as part of a group not just for the health benefits but for the mental health benefits of social exercise.
Other government-backed health schemes include Active Travel, a program designed to promote walking, cycling and jogging as a primary mode of transportation. The idea of this scheme is to get us to make the most out of the small journeys we have to make over the day by avoiding cars, buses and taxis. Active Travel helps to lobby the government for more accessible cycling paths and incentives for those who avoid using cars, alongside offering advice to those who would like to walk more.
Private backed schemes
Government-backed schemes are not the only way to get support and help getting active. There are a range of gyms that now offer free or subsidised classes and memberships for those with chronic health conditions or the elderly. With medical professionals such as Dr Robert Galloway saying that exercise may be the number one prescription we should be issuing is exercise, GPs have started doing just this. Organisations such as Everybody Active are promoting their GP-referred exercise schemes. They offer free classes to those suffering conditions such as high blood pressure, arthritis diabetes and even mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. To find out if you’re eligible just speak to your GP and ask what facilities are available in your area. You can find out more about Everyone Actives GP referral scheme over on their website.
There are also a range of private schemes run by individual companies. From cycle-to-work schemes to subsidised gym memberships, many workplaces will try to offer employees physical health assistance to ensure their employee’s well-being. See if your workplace offers any help for those trying to get active. If they don’t offer any schemes, refer them to organisations such as ClassPass or Perkbox. These companies offer employee benefits to help keep them healthy and physically active. Such packages aren’t just great for employees but also allow businesses to ensure their workers are fit, healthy and motivated.
Your path to physical wellness doesn’t have to be a lonely one. There are so many programs and schemes to access to help you along the way. Countrywide the NHS are promoting exercise and physical activity. Speak with your local doctor or GP to see what programs you may be able to access and benefit from. Reach out to your employers and see if there are any schemes to help you stay active and physically fit, it’s within both your interests! Local gyms and exercise groups may also provide free or subsidised help getting active, so keep an eye out for any local initiatives in your area. If you need help or advice getting more active, there are many charitable organisations that offer free professional-backed advice. By moving just a little bit more each day, we can ensure that we live a healthier, happier and more independent lifestyle, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help in your mission for a more mobile you.