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Play and 'fun activities' should be available throughout life to improve health and wellness

Experts have urged governments and industry to increase opportunities for play and fun physical activities throughout life – especially in older years – in order to improve the health and wellbeing of populations.

A panel at the ILC Future of Ageing conference has said making play possible throughout the life course could play a "vital role" in alleviating detriment to physical and mental health in the aged.

Janet Morrison, CEO of Independent Age argued that "fun activities" – such as physical activity – should not be limited by chronological age.

“There's more to life than being washed, dressed and fed," Morrison said.

"Somehow that gets lost in translation when we provide activities for older people. Why is that? Because we have a poverty of aspiration for what a good later life looks like.

"We forget that older people enjoy opportunities to play and have fun, be silly, be creative, to sing or dance, to paint, to laugh, to feel the fresh air in their lungs and the sun on their skin.”

Kenny Butler, head of health and wellbeing development at ukactive added: “No matter what your age, those who play and have fun stand the best chance of maintaining happy, healthy lives. It doesn’t matter how you get active so long as you keep moving.

“A huge majority (90 per cent) of the UK population living within 20 minutes of a gym, leisure centre or wellness. By focusing on the needs of an ageing population with co-morbidities we can have a real impact on the health and wellbeing of those who need these facilities and services most.“

Regular engagement in creative and community activities has been shown to significantly delay the onset of dementia and reduce loneliness. Research by Brigham Young University reveals that loneliness is a bigger killer than obesity or smoking 10 cigarettes a day.

The fourth Future of Ageing Conference assembled experts from the fields of health, housing, finance and business to identify the challenges and opportunities posed by an ageing society.

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Experts have urged governments and industry to increase opportunities for play and fun physical activities throughout life – especially in older years – in order to improve the health and wellbeing of populations.
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