We’ve all heard the saying, age is just a number, and in some ways it really is. As we get older, our physical appearance and mental capacity are no longer necessarily defined by our age, but by how active we are. It is said that many people in their late eighties can be as healthy as those in their late sixties, and conversely, many in their early seventies live with the health generally expected of a ninety year old*.
However, that may depend on whether we are moving or not.
Our Silver Mile is an initiative working to help the older generation do just that - move! We encourage older people to participate in regular physical activity by walking, jogging or even running a mile! You don’t have to go fast, you just have to go!
We want to highlight how participating in gentle activity can start to remove some of the barriers associated with old age, helping individuals stay healthy, energetic and more independent as they get older. Currently, many adults aged 65 and over, spend on average 10 hours or more each day sitting or lying down*. This inactivity correlates with higher rates of falls, obesity, heart disease, dementia and early death, in turn, creating more pressure within the health care systems… But what if there was a simple way to help reduce this?
The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said, ‘Walking is man’s best medicine’*. You may think, “why should we listen to something one man said thousands of years ago?” However, his words stand as true today as they did then.
There’s strong evidence that people who are active have a lower risk of heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression and dementia. In fact, experts have found that people aged 60 and over who did just 15 minutes of activity each day, reduced their risk of dying early by 22%, compared to those of a similar age who were inactive**. If an actual medication had that sort of effect, everyone would want it, wouldn’t they? So, maybe Hippocrates had a point.
The Silver Mile can be delivered within the community or residential homes and other social or care settings. We provide suitable resources and the support needed to help get our ageing communities more active. The Silver Mile is for all older community members, regardless of disability or ability. There is no pressure on time limits, no specific clothing needs to be worn - this is a solution that allows people to just do ’Their Mile, Their Way’.
This has been a challenging year for many people, but none more so than for the older generation. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many individuals cooped up inside, isolated from their families and from the outside world. This has unsurprisingly affected not just their physical wellbeing, but their mental wellbeing too.
The Silver Mile will aid the older demographic in overcoming this. Joining in with The Silver Mile will help individuals to make friends with likeminded people and get involved with their local community, creating a much-needed positive feeling, leading to increased overall wellbeing. Not forgetting the many health benefits, from improved muscle and joint pain to stronger cardiovascular health.
Just look at Captain Tom Moore. Although, having recently been treated for a broken hip and skin cancer, for his 100th birthday he walked 1.6 miles by doing laps in his garden in a bid to raise money for the NHS during the pandemic. This surpassed all physical expectations of someone who is a hundred years of age… And he’s at it again! His second and most recent campaign, to get people to #WalkWithTom, shows that Captain Tom not only represents resilience within the older community, but shows us that anyone, no matter their age or ability, can gain a wealth of health benefits from regular activity. Some may just need that extra nudge or incentive, which is how The Silver Mile can motivate and encourage the older generation to move more.
Whether you are a charity, a residential or nursing home, or any other social or care setting, you can embed The Silver Mile. If you would like to know more, check out our website or please get in touch on [email protected]