“Number six, cross kicks!” “Number eight, lift some weights!”

On 16th March we headed to the Scottish Parliament to launch ‘Body Boosting Bingo’ – a game of Bingo where each number relates to a move that encourages people to be more active!


What is ‘Body Boosting Bingo’?

Keeping physically active as you age is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can have a real impact on your quality of life, benefitting both your physical and mental health. Age Scotland’s  ‘Body Boosting Bingo’ contains a range of evidence-based strength and balance exercises such as squats or standing on one leg which participants do when the corresponding numbers is called. Of course after completing the move participants mark the number off their bingo card in the hope of winning a prize!

To launch ‘Body Boosting Bingo’, Age Scotland team members headed to the Scottish Parliament to host a few games with a selection of Age Scotland member groups and MSPs.

Visiting member groups joined us for some lunch in the Parliament before Age Scotland team members kicked off the game. Doug boomed out the bingo numbers in an excellent fashion, Jenny demonstrated the moves for each number with Yolanda showing the seated version, to ensure everyone in attendance could take part, even with the more challenging moves.

“Number six, cross kicks!”, “Number eight, lift some weights!” Some moves are self-explanatory but some require a little more explanation. “Fifteen, string bean!” sees our participants stretch their arms high as they can to get an all body stretch. “Two oh, do the tango!” saw MSPs Miles Briggs and Christine Grahame dancing at the front of the group. Everyone who took part were such great sports.

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Getting everyone involved!

The great thing about ‘Body Boosting Bingo’ is that it promotes light to moderate physical activity in a social context, allowing older people to socialise and keep fit at the same time.

Research shows that we gradually lose strength and power in our muscles and bones as we get older, however this can be reversed. Regularly doing just ten minutes twice a week of strength and balance exercises helps to maintain bone density and muscle power.  We are committed to promoting physical activity as a way for everyone to improve their wellbeing.

‘Body Boosting Bingo’ will be made available to day centres and older people’s groups across the country.


To find out more about ‘Body Boosting Bingo’ just call 0333 32 32 400 and ask to speak to a member of our Policy & Communications team.

Walk to live long

Could you or someone you know benefit from getting a little more active this year? Paths for All, Scotland’s national walking charity, explains how a simple walk can be the perfect activity to keep you happy, healthy and active in later life.


At Paths for All, we support over 500 Health Walks taking place across Scotland every week. From Kirkwall to Galashiels, all Health Walks are free, accessible, fun, and open to everyone! We’ve trained thousands of volunteers to safely lead these health walks in local communities. They are always looking for new walkers and volunteers to join, making it the perfect way to meet new people in your area whilst getting active.

If you’re unsure joining a Health Walk group is right for you, have a chat with the project coordinator and they’ll explain what’s involved and how they can support you.

The benefits of Health Walks are amazing. Here’s how some of our Health Walkers describe the social and mental benefits they have gained from taking part:

“It’s a rewarding experience, participating with a diverse, active and interesting group of walkers.”

“I do not walk on my own. I need the company and companionship of the group for encouragement.”

The physical health benefits are great too. Our infographic sums it up:

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It’s simple to find your nearest Health Walk, head to the Paths for All website and use our map to find a Health Walk local to you. If you’d prefer to speak to someone, you can call the Paths for All office on 01259 218 888 and we’ll happily tell you what’s going on in your area.

Walking is the easiest way to get active and enjoy the benefits, we can help you start sooner than you think – why wait to get all the benefits just by going for a walk?

Grapevines and Kung-Fu kicks

Trust Housing Association invited us to run healthy active ageing showcase events at 18 of their premises across Scotland.  Thanks to funding from the Life Changes Trust we were pleased to be able to say yes.  Doug Anthoney reports.


Number nine: Grapevine.  Number two: do Kung-Fu.

These are just a couple of the ‘calls’ that can come up when Trust Housing Association’s older tenants play our Strength and Balance bingo game.  It’s a fun way of getting everyone moving, and almost everyone can move: the activities we showcase are based on NHS exercises for older people, and there’s a seated option for most of them.

We focus on strength and balance because these are particularly important for long term health.  If we don’t look after these aspects of physical health, our muscles will deteriorate gradually from age 35, and we’ll have lost a third of the bone density in our hips by age 80.  The good news is that because bone and muscle are living tissue we can build them up, whatever age we are, by doing simple exercises on a regular basis.

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Our showcase doesn’t just focus on the body.  We also look at what everyone can do, whatever their age, to keep the brain healthy.  A key message is that any concerns we have about changes in our thinking abilities are best shared with a doctor, sooner rather than later.  Surveys have found that people are far more likely to see a doctor about physical aches and pains than they are for problems affecting thinking, memory or communication abilities.   Yet many of the causes of such symptoms can be stabilised or even reversed.  And if something that can’t be cured is responsible, such as dementia, then getting a diagnosis is an important step towards getting the support and treatment that can enable someone to live well with the condition.

It’s not possible to guarantee that someone will never get dementia, but there are things that we can all do to reduce the risk of dementia.  Our showcase highlights these: from eating well to challenging ourselves to learn new things.

So far there’s been a lot of laughs in our showcase events with Trust residents: from Newton Stewart to Stornoway.  We’re serious about our message, but that doesn’t mean that we take ourselves too seriously, and when learning is fun it’s more likely to stick.


Doug Anthoney is Training Programme Officer with Age Scotland’s Early Stage Dementia project.

Now & Next: Planning for later life with Age Scotland

Age Scotland’s chief exec Brian Sloan explains why to truly love later life, you have to be prepared, as we launch our new brand for those aged 50-65.


 

“You get training at every stage in life except for retirement”. This was the opening line by Helen, a volunteer who was running a Planning for Your Future workshop, and around the room you could see the sentiment resonating.

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You go to school to train for college or work. Once in work, you never stop training to keep abreast of health and safety, company policy or any of the myriad of ways that help you to do your job. Yet when you retire, you’re given your leaving present and off you go. For most people, this means going from a structured 40 hour week to absolutely nothing; you’ve looked forward to retirement for years, now off you go and do it. Yet retirement isn’t a thing you can just do, and that’s where Age Scotland can help.

In July 2014, the former Scottish Pre-retirement Council and the Tayside Pre-retirement Council joined forces with Age Scotland. Since then, we have been offering Planning for Your Future workshops aimed at the 50-65 age demographic. It might be a bit of a stretch to get your head around but an older people’s charity was after a younger demographic! Up until that point, Age Scotland was seen as a charity for the over 65s, but to truly love later life then you need to start planning well before then. So we gave the format a revamp to make it more interactive, relevant and thought provoking for today’s 21st century 50-65 year old and created Now & Next as the brand identity to speak to this audience.

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When I’ve been along to workshops, I hear so many people say they that they had hopes for retirement but were not sure how to achieve them. And whilst these workshops can’t promise to make your dreams come true, they can at least help you plan a course of action to achieving them. Whether it is financial, legal or health goals, if you only start planning the day before you retire you’re setting yourself up for a fall.

Helen is one of the volunteers that helps to facilitate the "Planning for Later Life" workshops.

Helen is one of our volunteers that helps to facilitate the “Planning for Later Life” workshops. Click here to find out more.

What’s more important is that planning for later life is not just about you. Living a balanced, happy and healthy retirement means you can improve the quality of life of those around you. Looking after grandkids, supporting your children or giving back to your community, later life should be the time you do what you want to do, so get on and plan it! If you want to know more about Now & Next visit our website, nowandnext.scot or watch Helen’s story (above). She’s one of the many volunteers who run our workshops, someone who has learned from the mistakes she made by not planning more carefully in advance and wants to help others step positively into their next life stage.


 

If you would like to find out more about Now and Next or the Planning for Later Life courses, just contact Stacey Kitzinger on stacey.kitzinger@agescotland.org.uk or call 0333 32 32 400.

Older adults benefit from two minute exercise routine

With physical activity shown to improve our ability to perform daily tasks and positively impact a wide range of health outcomes, like cardiovascular disease, dementia and diabetes, the benefits of exercise even in later life are significant. However, with older people struggling to find the time to get active, researchers at the University of Abertay in Dundee have identified a way that could help you get fit in matter of seconds. 


The Scottish Government’s Health Survey reveals that the majority of the older population don’t exercise regularly, with only one in twenty of those aged 75 and over (5 per cent) meeting physical activity and muscle strengthening exercise recommendations, rising to just 16 per cent among 55-64 year olds.

With many older people juggling the demands of caring, volunteering, looking after grandchildren or just enjoying retirement, time has consistently been reported as one of the major barriers to getting active.

With this in mind, academics at Abertay University have been developing an exercise routine that is time efficient and can be used by older people.  It involves cycling on an exercise bicycle against a set resistance as hard as you can for 6 seconds, followed by a period of recovery.  The rest period is determined by the time taken for your heart rate to return to below 120 beats per minute.

This would be repeated for a maximum of 10 times in a session, with training sessions taking place twice weekly.  This meant that in the studies involving older adults, participants were in training for a maximum of 15 minutes with only 60 seconds of that time being spent in activity.

Incredibly, participants in the research saw their physical capacity improve by 20 per cent in just 6 weeks and reported feeling more physically capable of doing things they previously found daunting.  After 8 weeks, they had drastically reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and over 10 weeks, there were dramatic improvements in cardiovascular health, with an 8 per cent reduction in hypertension.580x260_women_exercising

Age Scotland’s Early Stage Dementia Project, funded by the Life Changes Trust, has a core function of advancing the public understanding of healthy living, both in reducing the risk of developing dementia but also in delaying its onset.

Greg McCracken, Age Scotland’s Early Stage Dementia Team Leader & Policy Officer, said “If we are to encourage older people to reap the benefits of physical activity we need to develop solutions that reflect the reality of older people’s busy lives.

“The research from Abertay University into high intensity training shows that significant benefits can be reaped from surprisingly short periods of activity.  People should consult their GP before beginning a new exercise routine, but it will be reassuring for many that a mere 2 minutes of intermittent exercise per week, performed at maximum effort, has the ability to dramatically improve their health and wellbeing.”

The relationship between sport and physical activity in later life

Greg McCracken, Policy Officer at Age Scotland recently attended ‘Learning from the Masters: The relationship between sport and physical activity in later life’ – a seminar hosted by Glasgow Caledonian University. Here he shares with us what we can learn from the research.


The benefits of sports in later life were made clear at a seminar hosted by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) on Monday 13 April, where ‘Master’ athletes discussed the motivations and impacts of physical activity and some of the potential benefits for the wider population.

Funded by the Economic & Social Research Council and comprising academics from GCU, Brunel University and the Universities of Exeter and Loughborough, amongst others, the research group is examining the competing factors people must overcome to remain physically active as they grow older.

Masters sports are events that enable mature athletes to both practice their chosen discipline and participate in competitive games. Some prominent sports within the ‘masters’ category includes athletics, swimming and rugby.

Presentations considered participants’ motivations for competing, which ranged from a simple desire for victory, social benefits, and an understanding of the role which competitive sports can play throughout life, in terms of improving personal fitness levels.

Of course, it’s equally important that we don’t make physical activity for a mass audience exclusive; something that is only accessible if it’s in a formalised environment or which requires specialist equipment.  The benefits of physical activity are well known, as are the relative dangers of sedentary behaviours.

This, then, is the value of GCU’s research – if we can better understand what incentivises people to get active and stay active, we can develop and support programmes and facilities that genuinely meet people’s interests.

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Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of choice and ensuring that policy makers provide the widest variety of options to encourage and enable individuals to find the physical activity which works for them.  That means developing resources and infrastructure from a built environments that promotes active travel (walking and cycling), the availability of local gyms or swimming pools, right up to large scale tournaments and sporting events.

It’s with this in mind that Age Scotland is supporting the first Scottish Walking Football Festival on 7 June at Spartans Football Club in Edinburgh.

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The sport allows people to participate – at a walking pace – in a game in which many would previously have ruled themselves out.

So, if you’re interested in getting active again, have a look at some of the information available on our website here.