Benefits of keeping active

If you are worried about keeping happy and healthy in your own home there are a lot of activities you can undertake, not just to keep physically active but also mentally active too.

Scientists have found that challenging the brain with new activities helps to build new brain cells and strengthen connections between them. This helps to give the brain more ‘reserve’ so that it can cope better and keep working properly if any of the brain cells are damaged or die. 

Choose activities that are challenging and you enjoy doing

Challenge yourself often and keep learning new things throughout your life

Participating in social activities and interacting with others exercises brain cells and strengthens the connections between them. Social activities that involve mental activity and physical activity provide even greater benefit for brain health and reducing the risk of developing dementia. 

So try to do some of these as well:

  • Catch up with family and friends to keep your brain active − even better, catch up over a walk
  • Organise cards or games nights with friends or join a local community club 
  • Learn to play a musical instrument or go to the theatre or a concert 
  • Learn new things or participate in activities you enjoy such as painting, craft or orienteering
  • Sign up for a short course in something new like yoga, woodwork or photography − you will learn new skills and meet new people

The importance of heart health has long been promoted, but brain health is just as crucial for our ability to think, act and live well. Brain health is about reducing risk factors, keeping your mind active and getting the very best out of your brain as you get older. It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%. 

It’s free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get some. Its name? Exercise.

Click on the links below to find out if you’re doing enough for your age

People who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing many long-term (chronic) conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.

Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.

Given the overwhelming evidence, it seems obvious that we should all be physically active. It’s essential if you want to live a healthy and fulfilling life into old age.

It’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia


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