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Keeping physically active

We want more people to be more physically active in later life.

Being more active has many benefits – it improves physical and mental health, and enables people to stay connected to their family, friends and communities. As well as being more active in general, we know that maintaining and improving muscle strength and balance can help people in later life live independently and reduce the risk of falls.

We are focusing on giving more people the opportunity to do more strength and balance activity.

Why work on it?

There is a wide-ranging and robust body of evidence that demonstrates the benefits of physical activity to physical health, mental health and wellbeing.

Participants in our Later life in 2015 research typically cited health as the most important factor to them in a good later life. Within that, remaining physically active was often cited as one of the most important behaviours that people could adopt.

The Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines for older adults recommend two sessions of strength and balance activity a week. Improving levels of strength and balance can prevent falls and help people stay independent for longer. Yet awareness of the CMO guidelines among individuals and the health system is low.

Latest activity

  • In partnership with Public Health England, we are funding the UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMOs) Expert Group for Physical Activity to undertake an evidence review of muscle and bone strengthening and balance activities for health and wellbeing and make recommendations for practical action by individuals, practitioners and policy makers.
  • We are working with Public Health England, NHS England, and others to increase awareness and uptake of strength and balance activity. This includes contributing to and supporting the PHE Falls Partnership Group.
  • We are planning further work on synthesising and spreading the best evidence on the health benefits of strength and balance exercise relative to aerobic exercise, and the type and extent of activity that makes the most difference.

If you are working in this field, please contact

Have a look at our ‘Keeping Physically Active’ infographics.

Support us

Please get in contact if you are able to contribute information or ideas because:

  • you are doing relevant research that could help inform the design of interventions and solutions
  • you are delivering a service or intervention designed to support people maintain their physical and mental health and activity
  • you have ideas about how the Centre for Ageing Better can make most difference
  • you share our ambitions and would like to explore how you could contribute or work with us