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New Research: Age is Just a Number for Older Britons

Under Embargo until 00.01 Monday 25thFebruary 2019


Age is just a number...if you're over 65yrs

Older Britons more active than ever

New research launched today (25th February 2019) by leisure operator Better, shows that over 65yr olds are embracing physical exercise and recognising the myriad of benefits it offers.  More than one in ten (11%) are regular gym goers, with a further one in ten taking to the water and swimming regularly.  Six per cent still enjoy cycling as their preferred form of exercise. 

However walking remains the most popular physical activity with 57% walking for exercise on a regular basis.  Of those, a quarter of over the 65yr olds surveyed walk between 5 and 10 hours per week.

Older people are well aware of the benefits that regular exercise can offer.  75% exercise for health reasons, 50% for mental health reasons, 47% to de-stress and nearly a quarter (23%) in order to socialise.

However, this demographic is less adventurous than younger age groups, with only 2% having taken up a new exercise based activity in the past twelve months, compared to a national average of 10%.  Of those who did try something new, Yoga was the most popular choice followed by cycling.  The survey also found that old Britons had the most positive ‘can do' attitude within the population.  Over a quarter (27%) believe that there is no reason why they shouldn't exercise compared with 16% of the wider population, with the most common barriers to exercise perceived as being lack of time and medical issues.

Commenting on the findings, Julie Bourgeois Over 65yrs Lead from Better said: "Noticing the changes in our older members as they exercise gives me immense satisfaction.  They become part of a social group and, for some, this is their respite from caring for a family member with limited mobility or dementia.  Co-ordination improves as well as strength.  With osteoporosis a huge worry in this age bracket, one of the main aims is to give someone enough strength so that if they trip they can steady themselves, rather than falling and possibly breaking a bone.

"  At Better we have a very active 55+ Club and offer team games, Pilates, body conditioning, dance, water workout, to name but a few.  We also have supervised gym sessions which are an introduction into the gym environment." 

Edwina Brocklesby 75yrs founder of Silverfit Charity, Triathlete and Britain's oldest Ironman competitor added: "Being active in later life has huge benefits.  Through the Silverfit Charity I have seen the impact both on individuals' fitness but also their social opportunities and mental wellbeing.  It's vitally important to ensure that exercise is fun.  Working in partnership with Better and other organisations we offer everything from Nordic Walking, which helps enhance core stability and improve balance, through to Bollywood dance, Spin sessions and walking football.  There really are options to suit anyone and everyone."

Official advice from the NHS recommends adults aged 65 or older with no health conditions that limit their mobility should do:

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or walking every week and 
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)


  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running or a game of singles tennis every week and
  • strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)

Older adults at risk of falls, such as people with weak legs, poor balance and some medical conditions, should do exercises to improve balance and co-ordination on at least 2 days a week.


Notes to the editor

  • 1) generic older person swimming 2) Edwina Brocklesby, 75 year old triathlete in training on an exercise bike
  • Better is a charitable social enterprise and the UK's largest operator of leisure facilities.
  • For interviews with Julie Bourgeois or Edwina Brocklesby please contact Carole Pendle on 07768462601 /
  • For filming opportunities at across the UK showcasing dedicated older people's exercise classes, sports and activities please contact Carole Pendle, a range of geographic locations are possible.

For further press information
Carole Pendle, T:07768462601 OR Charles Dean, T:07813458258




Appendix I: Case-studies

Ancil Forde (Age 67) Cambridge

Ancil is a retired engineer and community worker.  He's also a qualified dance teacher and volunteer for youth projects.

Ancil exercises most days of the week, either taking part in classes (Circuits, Yoga and Zumba), swimming, playing walking football or playing golf.

He's always played football and that is his passion and discovering walking football in later life was fantastic as he was able to take up the game again.

When he retired he decided in wanted to learn something new and that was how to swim.  He began swimming lessons and while at the leisure centre thought he might as well make the most of it and started to take part in swimming classes as well.  Now he's training to take a part in a 22 mile charity swim, in aid of CRUK. 

For Ancil exercising has become a way of life and a reason to get out of the house and socialise.

Edwina Brocklesby (75 years)

In the past 10 years, 75yrs old Edwina has tackled six Ironmans, seven triathlons, five duathlons and seven London Marathons.  She's is the oldest Britain to have competed in an Ironman competition.  She works out in the gym two or three times a week - a mixture of strength training, balance exercises and rowing. 

In 2019 she will be competing in the World Triathlon Championships in Spain and Race Across America an ultra distance road cycling race over approximately 2,300 miles.  Edwina is also the founder of Silverfit a charity established to encourage older people to take regular exercise.