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There are many reasons why we tend to slow down and become more sedentary with age. It may be due to health problems, weight or pain issues, or worries about falling. Or perhaps you think that exercising simply isn’t for you.

But as you grow older, an active lifestyle becomes more important than ever to your health. Getting moving can help boost your energy, maintain your independence, protect your heart, and manage symptoms of illness or pain as well as your weight. And regular exercise is also good for your mind, mood, and memory. No matter your age or your current physical condition, these tips can show you simple, enjoyable ways to become more active and improve your health and outlook.

A recent Swedish study found that physical activity was the number one contributor to longevity, adding extra years to your life—even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years. But getting active is not just about adding years to your life, it’s about adding life to your years. You’ll not only look better when you exercise, you’ll feel sharper, more energetic, and experience a greater sense of well-being.

Remaining active throughout life is a vital part of ageing well. All types of physical activity – from walking and gardening, to dedicated exercise classes – can improve mobility, protect against ill-health, enhance mental well-being and lower the risk of cognitive decline, as well as keep individuals more independent for longer.

The Five Year Forward View, a roadmap outlining how the NHS can remain sustainable while still providing for an ageing population, highlighted the need to encourage healthy lifestyles in people of all ages, to prevent the development of lifestyle related non-communicable diseases. Ensuring older people have opportunities and the motivation to be active is therefore paramount to securing the future of the NHS.

Local authorities, health practitioners and fitness operators all have a role to play in supporting people to be active well into old age: from broad measures ensuring the local community is easily accessible by foot, to providing specifically targeted activity opportunities for older people in collaboration with the physical activity sector.

Active ageing is the process of optimising opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. It applies to both individuals and population groups.

Active ageing allows people to realise their potential for physical, social, and mental well-being throughout the life course and to participate in society, while providing them with adequate protection, security and care when they need.

The word “active” refers to continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spiritual and civic affairs, not just the ability to be physically active or to participate in the labour force. Older people who retire from work, ill or live with disabilities can remain active contributors to their families, peers, communities and nations. Active ageing aims to extend healthy life expectancy and quality of life for all people as they age.

“Health” refers to physical, mental and social well being as expressed in the WHO definition of health. Maintaining autonomy and independence for the older people is a key goal in the policy framework for active ageing.

Ageing takes place within the context of friends, work associates, neighbours and family members. This is why interdependence as well as intergenerational solidarity are important tenets of active ageing.

Apart from numerous parks, open spaces and access to Leisure Centres, the West Midlands region offers specific areas of activities targeted at older people such as Mature swimming lessons, Fitness sessions, Age Concern Tai Chi, 50+ activities, bowling , yoga and more.

We have recently teamed up with Wolves Community Trust to bring the fantastic sport of walking football to people in and around Wolverhampton. The aim of walking football is to help older people, or those with limited mobility, remain active and fit, while still pursuing their love for the beautiful game in a fun and sociable environment.

“In the UK around 22% of men die before the age of 65, compared to 13% of women. Although physically active men have a 20 – 30% reduced risk of premature death and 50% less chronic disease, by the age of 55-64 only 32% of men say they take the recommended half hour of exercise five times a week. “

The new sporting craze of ‘Walking Football’ may enable people to continue playing football into their 60s and 70s while reaping a multitude of health benefits, according to Aston University researchers. Walking Football has recently taken the country by storm, becoming one of the fastest growing sports nationwide.

Tips for staying motivated

It’s easy to become discouraged when illness, injury, or changes in the weather interrupt your routine and seem to set you back to square one. But there are ways to stay motivated when life’s challenges get in the way:

Focus on short-term goals, such as improving your mood and energy levels and reducing stress, rather than goals such as weight loss, which can take longer to achieve.

Reward yourself when you successfully complete a workout, reach a new fitness goal, or simply show up on a day when you were tempted to ditch your activity plans. Choose something you look forward to, but don’t allow yourself to do until after exercising, such as having a hot bath or a favorite cup of coffee.

Keep a log. Writing down your activities in an exercise journal not only holds you accountable, but is also a reminder of your accomplishments.

Get support. When you work out with a friend or family member, you can encourage and motivate each other.

Social Care providers say they are “dismayed” after the government failed to commit to paying a potentially devastating back pay bill for sleep-in shifts.

The crisis arose after a court ruled that carers staying overnight, known as sleep-in shifts, were entitled to the minimum wage, rather than a flat-rate £30 which had been paid by care providers. Charities say they had been wrongly advised by government guidance. It means some face bills for back pay covering up to six years, with many saying they will simply fold without a bailout.

Care providers say they are “dismayed” after the government failed to commit to paying a potentially devastating back pay bill for sleep-in shifts. In a long-awaited announcement on Wednesday, the government said it would give care providers 15 months to compensate staff who were underpaid for the shifts, which require workers to stay overnight in care facilities in case of emergency.

In the past carers were paid a flat rate for the work. But after a recent ruling they are now entitled to an hourly minimum wage and compensation for six years of back pay – a cost care providers are expected to bear. The liability could leave the learning disabilities sector alone facing a cost of some £400m, while children’s homes may face a bill of between £40,000 and £2m each.

It is a bill many organisations say will bankrupt them if the Government does not step in.

“Having to pay that amount would drive medium to small providers out of business,” Derek Lewis, Mencap’s chair of trustees, told Sky News.

Under the government’s proposed solution to the problem, care providers will opt into a “compliance scheme” which will give them 15 months and HMRC support to identify and pay what they owe workers.

It is a programme the government says has “been designed to help ensure workers are paid what they are owed, while also maintaining important services for people who access social care“.

But providers have criticised the scheme, and have urged the government to commit to financial help with the bill.

In a statement responding to the scheme, Mr Lewis said it meant only the “promise of further delay”, with “no commitment, even in principle, to accept responsibility for a liability created by Government changing the rules.”

“Today’s announcement may help HMRC understand the extent of the liabilities for back pay but it completely fails to give any reassurance to people with a learning disability that their homes and care are secure and to carers that their jobs are not under threat,” he said.

An assessment of the 2,000 specialist independent children’s homes in the UK found 25% could close if forced to meet the cost of back pay.

Jonathan Stanley, the chief executive of the Independent Children’s Homes Association, said the cost would be the “final nail in the coffin” for providers who had not received funding increases from local authorities for many years.

“Without urgent Government assistance, the residential child care sector faces profound change and one of the most important care options for vulnerable children will be lost forever,” he said.

A BBC Panorama investigation found private hospitals are not reporting enough data on patient outcomes. Patients may be being put at risk by the failure of private hospitals to report serious incidents, the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) has warned.


This means the private sector “cannot be as robust or as safe as the NHS”, RCS president Derek Alderson said.

The government says new guidelines will lead to tougher enforcement action against failing clinics.

The concerns, raised by the RCS, are focused on reporting serious incidents and so-called “never events” – extreme mistakes that should never happen.

These are not reported to national databases in a consistent way or at all, the RCS said.

It also warned that clinical audit data is lacking from the private sector, such as not submitting datasets on the outcomes of cancer surgery, despite undertaking many cancer procedures.

‘Not good enough’

Mr Alderson said: “We don’t know exactly what’s going on in the private sector.

“It cannot be as robust or as safe as the NHS at the moment for the simple reason that you do not have complete reporting of all patients who are treated.

“It’s not good enough. Things have to change,” he said.

The RCS also points to gaps in reporting on cosmetic surgery, where there is no dataset on the total number of operations.

Much of the private healthcare industry accepts there is a problem with data and transparency.

Brian O’Connor, of the Independent Doctors Federation, said: “It’s up to private hospitals to raise their game and to show the data and the excellence of care, because there is nothing for them to hide.”

Mr O’Connor, whose organisation represents 1,200 private doctors, added: “Those private hospitals which don’t have the data and are not transparent should be closed or not be allowed to conduct complex medical procedures.”

Grey line

Panorama heard from victims of rogue surgeon Ian Paterson, jailed for 20 years for intentionally wounding patients.

Although he was found to have harmed patients in the NHS, more than 700 people were harmed by him in private hospitals, including Beryl Parkes.

Paterson removed one of her breasts and she needed further operations to rectnify his mistakes.

Beryl Parkes

Ms Parkes said: “You believe a doctor, don’t you? They take oaths for people to do their best for them.”

But nobody was supervising Paterson.

And when Ms Parkes’s treatment was eventually reviewed, it turned out she should not have had any operations – because she did not have cancer in the first place.

“He should have got life,” she said. “And I think that’s too good for him, because it must have been basically all over money.”

Paterson’s supervisors at Spire Healthcare were criticised for failing to manage their high-earning surgeon.

The company told the BBC it is “truly sorry for the distress experienced by patients”.

Grey line

Panorama also learned that some patients are unable to get compensation if they are harmed by a private surgeon.

The hospital might refuse to accept liability because the surgeon is an independent contractor with “practising privileges”.

Lawyer Suzanne White said: “Any patient that goes through a private hospital will assume that they will be covered, and they are simply not. That is astonishing.”

Patients may not be able to get compensation from the surgeon’s insurance company either, because if the insurer decides that the surgeon has broken the rules, they can refuse to cover them.

‘Totally reprehensible’

It is a rare gap in the system, but disastrous for patients.

Mr O’Connor responded: “To say a patient who has had wrong done to them is not going to get proper compensation is totally reprehensible.”

He wants the government and private health organisations to ensure patients are compensated properly.

Panorama has discovered a case where a patient who had been harmed was unable to get compensation from the private hospital or the surgeon responsible.

He successfully sued the NHS instead, because his first consultation was in an NHS hospital.

Even the lawyer who won the case thinks it was wrong that the NHS was forced to pay up.

Suzanne White said: “I feel entirely uncomfortable about it and very cross, because I see it quite often.

“Why is it that a private hospital that has a doctor who has given negligent care – and profited – does not compensate those patients?

“Why is it the NHS has to foot the bill?”

Doctor at computer

Last year, more than 500,000 NHS patients were referred to private hospitals.

But the fastest growing area in the sector is self-pay, where people without insurance fund their own treatment to the tune of almost £900m annually.

Together, NHS referrals and self-pay patients make up nearly half the private health sector’s business.

‘Tougher enforcement’

The Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations said there is strong evidence that the independent sector is safe and patient safety is as much of a priority as it is for the NHS.

It said the Care Quality Commission has rated nearly 60% of private hospitals as either good or outstanding for safety.

The Department of Health said new standards have already set out clearer requirements for the delivery of safe care.

It said tougher enforcement action will be enabled against failing providers.

Cosmetic surgery clinics will now be rated by the CQC, and private hospitals must ensure ratings are displayed both within premises and online.

Despite promising results in an earlier trial, people taking the experimental drug intepirdine in the Phase III MINDSET trial did not see any substantial benefits in memory and thinking compared to those who took a placebo. These disappointing results feel like yet another setback, but Dr Clare Walton our Research Communications Manager explains why we should still be optimistic.

A drug to manage the symptoms of dementia

Intepirdine was being tested as an add-on to existing Alzheimer’s medications. It wasn’t expected to slow down the brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s, but based on earlier studies, researchers were hopeful that it would go further than the existing drugs to help people cope with the symptoms of dementia.

Given that we haven’t seen a drug approved for any form of dementia since 2002, new approaches to treat the symptoms and to slow the disease are both urgently needed.

Over 1000 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease took part in the trial. They took either the experimental drug or a placebo every day for 6 months, on top of a stable daily dose of donepezil, the most common treatment for Alzheimer’s.

At the end of the study, there were no significant differences in memory and thinking abilities between those who took the drug and those who took the placebo. There were also no improvements in how well people were able to complete their daily activities such as dressing, cooking and using public transport.

The conclusion – that intepirdine does not work as a new drug for people with Alzheimer’s.

Broadening the focus of drug discovery

It’s true that drug discovery for Alzheimer’s disease has been riddled with negative results, but this latest failure isn’t a reason to lose hope. Up until now, most Alzheimer’s drug research has focused on a very narrow range of targets. Drugs in development have either focused on the build-up of amyloid plaques, or have tried to change the imbalance of chemicals called neurotransmitters in the brain. This is what intepirdine does.

Although we know both of these mechanisms are important in Alzheimer’s, we also know of several other pathways that go wrong and contribute to disease progression. Alzheimer’s Society has recently committed £50m as a founding funder of the UK Dementia Research Institute, which will fund over 400 scientists to investigate the underlying causes of all forms of dementia. By exploring a much wider range of disease mechanisms, their research aims to unlock the doors to many alternative treatment approaches.

Dementia Research Institute graphic
Plans for the UK Dementia Research Institute


Researchers within the UK Dementia Research Institute, and indeed across our £30m research portfolio, are looking into a number of exciting leads. These include: the critical role that cells and chemicals of the immune system play in dementia; the way in which connections between brain cells are disrupted early in the disease; what changes in the complex relationship between blood vessels and brain cells as dementia takes hold; and more exploratory work such as the role of sleep and gut bacteria in predisposing people to dementia.

Working across these diverse research areas and casting our net more widely should dramatically increase our chances of finding new drugs that really work.

Dr Doug Brown, our Director of Research and Development, said: ‘The UK Dementia Research Institute is a ground-breaking initiative that could not have arrived at a better time. As the number of people living with dementia in the UK is set to reach 1 million by 2021, the stakes are too high to fail.’

Time is of the essence

Of course for people living with dementia now, time is still the most important issue. With another drug failure comes the disappointment that it will be a few years before we see the next promising drug trial deliver its results. While we wait, we need to look at ways to shortcut the drug development process – which is the focus of our Drug Discovery programme. It tests whether drugs already in use for other health conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or high blood pressure, can work for people with dementia too, potentially reducing development time in half.

We’re also investing heavily into care research that looks at non-pharmacological ways to help people with dementia manage their symptoms and to be supported to live in their communities as well as possible for as long as possible.


Eating healthy can be a bit of a challenge, as healthcare professionals are typically managing long shifts, running around and balancing many things at once. Taking a lunch break can sometimes be impossible. For this reason, snacking might be the best way to keep you going. Snacks can be consumed quickly on the go. Plus, eating 5-6 small meals a day, instead of 3 large meals, keeps the metabolism working at peak performance. Here are some great snack suggestions for busy nurses, doctors or healthcare workers :

  • Fresh or dried fruit. Fresh fruit is portable, refreshing, and can be eaten quickly. Fruits that are ready to eat when you want them are best, such as apples, bananas, grapes, or berries. Oranges and other citrus fruits can also be a good snack, but it is best to peel them ahead of time so they can be consumed quickly on the go. Dried fruit is also a great healthy snack idea, but watch out for added sugar and preservatives. When it comes to fruit, fresh is best.
  • Sliced apple (or a banana) with peanut butter (2 tablespoons is 1 serving).Apples alone are a great snack because they are highly portable and are low on the glycemic index, which means that it digests more slowly than many other carbohydrates and does not cause an extreme spike in blood sugar. Pairing an apple with peanut butter, which is a good source of protein and good for you fats, will keep you feeling full even longer. Sliced apples can be easily dipped in peanut butter and eaten on the go. Bananas are a great source of potassium, which is essential for proper muscular function. For additional convenience, peanut butter can be purchased in serving-sized packages
  • Brown rice cake with nut butter.Anything paired with nut butter is a great workday snack. Brown rice cakes are low calorie and can be kept at work for easy access.
  • Hummus is another food that is low glycemic and a good source of fat and protein. It can be consumed with multigrain crackers or whole wheat pita bread, or with veggies, such as cucumbers, celery, carrots, or peppers, for added nutritional value. Hummus can be purchased in a snack-size or in a larger container that can be stored in the break room refrigerator.
  • Mixed nuts.Nuts are low glycemic and high in fat and protein, in additional to other health benefits. This is another snack that is easily eaten on the go, but be weary of your serving sizes. A serving of nuts is 1 ounce, which is typically about a handful. Choosing natural or lightly salted nuts over those with higher sodium. Pair the nuts with some dried cranberries or raisins for a healthy trail mix.
  • Greek yogurt.Greek yogurt is high in protein, so it helps you stay full throughout your shift. Its portability makes it a great grab-and-go snack. This is another item that is easily stored in the break room refrigerator. Add fruit, nuts, or granola for greater energy.
  • Oatmeal is full of protein and fibre, helping you get through your day. It is also warming and comforting, which makes for a soothing snack.  The healthiest variety is plain or original oatmeal, but there are also many different flavors available. Adding fruit, nuts, and honey is a good way perk up plain oatmeal.
  • Cottage cheese.2% milk fat or nonfat cottage cheese is high in protein to keep you full longer and low in fat and calories. This snack can be bought in convenient snack-size packages or in a larger container and left at work. Cottage cheese is versatile and can be eaten with virtually anything. Try it with fresh fruit or fruit preserves, veggies, or avocado to mix it up.
  • Protein or granola bars.There are many different brands and flavors of protein and granola bars to choose from. Reading the label is key to finding the healthiest ones, as some pack so much sugar they are basically glorified candy bars. Look for bars that are lower in sugar and that contain 10 or more grams of protein and 4 or more grams of fibre.
  • Fruit smoothie or protein shake.Fruit smoothies and protein shakes can be purchased at the grocery store or made at home before work and stored in the refrigerator until snack-time. If buying them pre-made, watch out for smoothies and shakes that are high in sugar or contain a lot of preservatives.

Have any other favourite healthy snacks? Leave a comment to share it with us – Sharing is caring too !