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The Open University announces new national health campaign empowering people to Age Well

Published on 01 September 2023 08:51 AM

Launching on 1 September, The Open University’s Take Five to Age Well pledge will build a UK-wide movement of people committed to ageing well behaviours, with a lasting impact on their health and wellbeing.

 Take Five to Age Well is being supported locally by Lady Mary Peters, Age NI and parts of the Health and Social Care Sector in Northern Ireland.

The month-long campaign asks people to sign up for a choice of healthy life commitments in five areas: Eat, Drink, Move, Connect and Engage, and Think. By taking part in the online pledge, people will follow these healthy habits shaped by leading experts from The Open University that will boost their health and well-being.

Launching the campaign, Age NI Ambassador, Lady Mary Peters, said: “This has been a mentality of mine all my life.  I am now 84 and do exercise every day.  I eat a healthy diet.  I learn something new every day.  I also communicate with other people, and I keep my body well hydrated.  By doing these things I hope I can inspire other people to do the same, so they have a healthier future.  It is so important that as we get older, we keep active as it helps to stimulate the mind and body and a healthy mind and healthy body go well together.”

Research shows that 70-80% of your ageing rate is largely determined by environmental factors (non-genetic) and many of these are within our gift; by making small changes in lifestyle, we can live longer, healthier lives.

Linda Robinson, Chief Executive of Age NI said, “As the leading charity for older people, Age NI is on a mission to support older people to live well for longer. These steps to age well are seemingly simple actions which add up to make a big difference to how someone feels, both physically and mentally. Moving our body a little more to stay strong, and connecting with others, are two of the most powerful things people of any age can do to feel good every day - and it’s never too late to start.”

John D’Arcy, Director of The Open University in Ireland said:

“The Open University is proud to launch this initiative to shine a light on the importance of considering lifestyle choices now that will have an impact on the rest of your life.  Not only on the need to be active but also to keep the brain active and learn something new every day. We hope that people across Northern Ireland will join in the pledge and decide to make a change to their lives and society today.” 

Take Five to Age Well builds upon the Five Pillars of Ageing Well, devised by Dr. Jitka Vseteckova and is one of The Open University’s Open Societal Challenges which looks to use the power of the University’s research to address complex issues affecting society.

Dr. Jitka Vseteckov, Senior Lecturer in Health and Social Care at The Open University, said:

“This campaign tackles an urgent national health challenge; we have an ageing population in a landscape of overwhelmed social care and NHS services. Through the Take Five to Age Well pledge we hope to engage people across the UK with their health and wellbeing.

“This will support the sustainability of existing interventions and contribute to our understanding of how we can effectively change our health-related behaviours. We want to build a healthy population for a happier society.”

With an ever-increasing demand on adult social care services and the NHS across Northern Ireland, The Open University will help people take proactive care across the month of September in five key areas of their lives.

Top tips from Take Five to Age Well include:

  • Stand on one leg whilst brushing your teeth - this is great for balance that become more and more important to avoid falls.
  • Drink a glass of water before every snack and meal - this will help you stay hydrated (our thirst response weakens with age due to cognitive changes and so you need to proactively drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty).
  • Choose a new vegetable you wouldn’t normally buy from the supermarket and look up a recipe that uses it.
  • Spend 5 minutes doing something creative: draw a picture, play an instrument, do an origami online tutorial.
  • Offer to walk someone’s dog - spending time with animals is calming and walking in nature is good for the body and brain.
  • Laugh and have fun - the dose of dopamine from laughing stimulates the synthesis of new proteins in the brain, it also reduces stress and boosts mood. The average four year old laughs 300 times a day, whereas the average 40 year old laughs only four times.

Take Five to Age Well hopes to inspire people up and down the UK to think about their future health. You can sign up to the pledge here:


Last updated: Sep 01 2023

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