Ricky Henderson: You’re never too old to try new activity

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The prospect of a peaceful retirement spent putting your feet up is a tempting thought for many approaching that time in their lives.

But the latest evidence suggests that being inactive during older age can cause more harm than good, and NHS research has found that staying active and connected with your local community can do wonders for your health.

Of course, staying active isn’t just important for physical health – it’s just as good for mental health. Research has found it can ward off depression, loneliness and low self-esteem.

Promoting healthy and active ageing is an essential part of improving lives for older people. If we improve health and wellbeing, then it’s likely that the need for older people to access higher levels of care will be delayed.

Age shouldn’t be a barrier to physical activity and the City of Edinburgh Council has organised a drop-in day at Broughton High School today, the theme of which is that being active is often cheap to do and very easy to take up.

Edinburgh Leisure will be there to showcase fitness activities, while visitors can find out about LOOPS (Local Opportunities for Older People), the Drylaw Rainbow Club, and Get Up and Go, a directory of activities for those aged 50-plus. There will be advice about adult education, carer support, and the North West Carers Project.

There will also be organisations there that provide a range of services, such as odd jobs, or helping to build confidence to get out and about.

Edinburgh recently became the only Scottish city to join a European project which is dedicated to improving the lives of older people. The cities involved in the URBACT Healthy Ageing project share ideas and expertise about schemes aimed at promoting the importance of being healthy and active in later life.

The city is already well placed to take part, thanks to successful projects such as A City for all Ages and Live Well in Later Life, and is one of 12 UK cities working with the World Health Organisation’s Age Friendly Cities’ network.

Don’t use age as an excuse – you’re never too old to find activities to suit your lifestyle and preferences. Try out Edinburgh Choices or Get Up and Go on their websites for more details.

Get moving and improve your chances of living well in later life.

Councillor Ricky Henderson is health, social care and housing convener for Edinburgh City Council.