Get active in the great Welsh outdoors with a walk in the countrysideStatistics show that as we get older, we move less. Recent research undertaken by the Sports Council for Wales shows that activity levels fall away as we age. While 36.7% of over 15 year olds are active at the recommended levels, once we pass the half century mark the figure drops to 29.8% and 26.6% once we hit 65.

So it seems that as we age we drift away from exercise – at a time when it’s especially crucial that momentum is maintained. And if it’s true what they say and old age doesn’t come on its own, undertaking regular exercise will help keep what comes with it to a minimum.

People often confuse lack of fitness for the signs of ‘getting on’ and enter an activity slowdown. It might seem like the natural thing to do, but putting your feet up in later life puts you on the slippery slope leading to dependency and ill health.

Unfortunately you can't store the benefits of exercise. If you were sporty until your 40s, it won't help in your 70s, so to maintain a healthy lifestyle the message is simple- keep moving.

Experts say the older body performs far more efficiently when you exercise. While rest and relaxation is important, it is vital that you fit in regular activity to stay active, healthy and independent. After all, there’s no point living to a ripe old age if you’re not in tip-top mental and physical health.

In response to Health Challenge Wales – the national focus for action to improve health and wellbeing in Wales – the Sports Council for Wales is calling on you to step up your activity levels and contribute to a turnaround in the health of the nation.

Swansea’s Dr Mark Ridgewell, sports medicine doctor and general practitioner, explains:

"It cannot be overstated how important and regular exercise is for everybody. Just 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise – a level at which you should feel warm, mildly out of breath and mildly sweaty – on five or more days of the week is all you need to do in order to bring about real health benefits. Put simply, walking just two miles every day means you will dramatically improve your overall health and quality of life."

Keep active by walking with a friend, cycling to the shops, gardening, playing tennis in the park, practicing tai chi or exercise with videos at home. Do what feels right for you. The benefits of exercise will begin as soon as you start, but it may take a couple of months to notice improvement.