National Fitness Day 2021
On Wednesday 22 September 2021 National Fitness Day will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
The theme this year is ‘Fitness Unites Us’ and we hope National Fitness Day will encourage older people across North Tyneside to feel inspired to get active. Maybe you’re a carer and could do with some time for yourself an increase in physical activity could provide this.
Keeping physically active in mid-life helps to delay the onset and progression of many age-related health conditions and plays an important role in helping to manage the impact of health conditions once we develop them.
Despite its importance, levels of physical activity begin to drop in mid-life. This is also true for active travel – that is, walking and cycling for everyday journeys. Although it is one key approach to building regular physical activity into daily life, people in mid and later life are less likely to participate in active travel than younger age groups.
For individuals who have already developed a health condition, physical activity can help them manage their condition and maintain their functional ability, their independence and their quality of life as they grow older. Yet the proportion of people who are physically inactive generally increases with age, with activity levels beginning to drop in people around the age of 50.
The latest data estimates that about a quarter of adults aged 55-74 are currently inactive, meaning they are doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week. This rises to nearly half of all adults aged 75 and over.
Active travel – walking or cycling for everyday journeys that get us from place to place – is one key approach to increasing levels of physical activity. Active travel offers a convenient and accessible way to build routine physical activity into our lives outside of our leisure time. Yet people in mid and later life are less likely to participate in active travel compared to younger age groups, and this trend becomes more pronounced with age.
The Centre for Ageing Better commissioned Sustrans to carry out research to understand the barriers and enablers to participating in active travel.
Barriers to active travel
Those involved in the research cited the following barriers to active travel in general:
- Distance, potentially to great in rural locations
- Lack of personal motivation
- The weather
- Their personal safety
- Lack of a previous active travel ‘habit’
- Declining health or disability
For cycling specifically the barriers to active travel were perceived as:
- Fear of motorised traffic
- Lack of confidence
- Poor cycle specific infrastructure
- Drive behaviour and car culture
North Tyneside Environment
The environment we live in is a major factor when considering active travel and the ability to do this.
To enable you to consider cycling or walking in later life why not take a look at the North Tyneside cycling (and walking) map. It is one of 6 in total, covering the whole of Tyne and Wear and South East Northumberland.
Last year Sustrans worked with North Tyneside Council on the North Tyneside plan which included a new coastal cycle and walking route. Additionally they implemented plans to create more space for pedestrians along busy town centre streets.
These include Park View in Whitley Bay, High Street West in Wallsend, Nile Street in North Shields and Front Street, Tynemouth.
If you’ve not cycled before or would like to get back into it and are feeling a little nervous why not take a look at the Cycle Ways 4 All website for sound advice for beginners.
In 2000 North Tyneside Council successfully bid for over £2m worth of funding to transform more than 30 miles of routes as part of the Government’s Liveability Fund.
Our historic 19th century Waggonways network was once used to haul coal to ships on the River Tyne from dozens of coal mines in the borough. They had fallen into disrepair over many years but now create a great cycling and walking route which is flat and so not too strenuous. There are a series of waggonway cycling route brochures which can be downloaded.
When you are feeling more adventurous you could perhaps begin to explore North Tyneside and the top 20 routes are listed on Komoot.
If you’d like to consider becoming more active or maybe someone you care for why not give Age UK North Tyneside a call. Their Healthy Habits team can suggest a programme to support you to make healthier lifestyle choices and their Active Age service will signpost you to local physical activities which will benefit you or your loved one.