Elderly encouraged to beat dementia by taking up sport – Telegraph.co.uk

She says: “We eschew regular exercise at our peril. It can make a massive difference in an ageing population such as ours: it keeps hearts healthy, strengthens joints, helps in the fight against long-term conditions such as strokes and cancer, and improves psychological wellbeing.

“Exercise can even combat depression and help to overcome loneliness – something which can have a worse impact on health than smoking and obesity.

“The trouble is that once people get past a certain age, they tend to feel intimidated about getting involved in any sort of physical exertion – they might be embarrassed, or just not feel they have the strength for it. But I firmly believe that there is a sport out there for everyone.”

The government also highlighted research showing that exercise has a “positive” impact in warding off dementia.

Miss Crouch today publishes a new consultation into the £1billion the government puts into sports funding following a fall in participation.

Despite the success of the London Olympics, the number of people taking part in sport at least once a week has fallen by 222,000 over the past six months to 15.5million.

Miss Crouch said she she is not prepared to be the sports minister who “tolerated a downward trent in participation”.

The consultation suggests that schools need to do more to encourage children to be more active by increasing the amount of PE or after school sport and encouraging pupils to be more active during theirp laytimes.

Edward Timpson, the minister for sport, said: “Provision for children and young people will rightly sit at he heart of a new strategy for sport in this country. We want to see healthy, happy children becoming healthy, happy, active adults and the talented primary school children of today becoming our sporting stars of the future.”

The consultation also suggests that the government is preparing to harness the wealth of data from sports and fitness apps on smart phones, which have hundreds of thousands of users in the UK.

The government said it could use the “bulk” data to help decide which sports it spends money on, when they should take place and how they should be tailored.

Ministers said that the idea that people play the same sport every week is “outdated” and that they now approach it in the same way as television or music, “picking and choosing from a wide range of options”.

Fewer people join clubs to take part in sport, prefering instead to swim one even, cycle the next or go to the gym. However, the government warned that there could be significant cuts to sports funding under the austerity programme. It said it wants to encourage more commercial sponsorship to help boost participation.