HEALTH : Over-50s are couch potatoes

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The North West has the biggest number of couch potatoes among people over 50, while people in East Anglia are the most active in England, according to new research from the Health Education Authority.

The study of 4,300 people between 50 and 74 found that nationally, more than seven out of 10 men and eight out of 10 women over 50 did not take part in sufficient activity to benefit their health. Instead, they turned on the TV, with women watching an average of 21 hours and men an average of 19 hours of television per week.

Once they had switched off the TV, a quarter of older women (aged 70- 74) did not have enough strength in their legs to get out of a chair without using their arms. And over a third of women and nearly one in 10 men aged 50-74 were unable to walk at a 20 minute-a-mile pace. Glenda Cooper