Movement for Health and Wellbeing in Early and Later Life

Whilst inactivity and inequality exist across the life course, health and wellbeing in early and later life is particularly important. Working in collaboration with partners and organisations, we are supporting, encouraging and enabling those in early and later life to move more for healthier and happier lives. This includes children and young people aged 0-25 years and older people.

Helping Children and Young People to Live Healthy and Happy Lives

Having a great start in life is crucial to long-term health and wellbeing. Whilst we develop and grow, we begin to establish physical activity habits that are life-long. For children and young people these behaviours not only underpin healthy growth and long-term physical health, but evidence highlights that moving regularly has an immediate positive impact on childhood and adolescent mental health.

Equally in our early years we can also establish sedentary behaviours which are less helpful and can contribute to health complications throughout life. In fact, we are beginning to understand that there are a number of social conditions that make sedentary behaviour much easier than being active. Things like where we live, how we live, education, family and community influences, social policy, and also the built and natural environment around us.

The health of our children has been identified by One Devon as a major priority. When we work with multiple system partners like the NHS or schools, we often use the term ‘supporting Physical Literacy.’ We want our young people to be physically literate in the same way children learn to read. The UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines recommend children and young people* should aim to be active for at least 60 minutes per day. However, our focus is on helping those who are inactive to start to move a little more. We work closely with our Early Life team to help Devon’s children and young people to start and build their relationship with moving regularly, so they become Physically Literate. Check out the Movement in Early Life (0-25 years) page to find out more.

Helping Older People to Age Well

As we begin to age, we often feel that it is time to start slowing down. This is because social norms and socially accepted ideas influence our actions. Yet new evidence shows us the opposite. The more we can keep active into our later years the more likely we will increase our quality of life and have greater health span. We know that good levels of physical mobility in older years noticeably reduces the risk of frailty, minimises falls and reduces hip fractures. Equally we are beginning to recognise the impact of physical activity on the prevention and management of many disease conditions, to include diabetes, cardiovascular health and preventing dementia.

Our Movement for Health and wellbeing work is closely connected to the Later Life strategy theme where we focus on enabling our ageing population to Live, Longer, Better. Here the work revolves around reducing rates of age-related decline by increasing physical activity levels to improve physical health and improve emotional and cognitive wellbeing. Alongside this, our work looks to influence and support our local systems to enable age friendly built on positive policy frameworks so that people are less isolated and able to keep contributing where they live through valued volunteering. Check out our Movement in Later Life page to find out more.

*Children and young people aged five to eighteen years.