OLDER people in Hereford are being encourage to take up martial arts to improve their overall health.

A free class is being held later this month at the Royal Voluntary Service Hereford Hub on Vicarage Road which is part of the organisation’s ‘first time for everything’ campaign.

The programme aims to give older people in Hereford and across the UK an opportunity to try something new for free in their local community.

They say staying active and social have been proven to be important to keeping fit and well in older age, with tai chi an ancient Chinese martial art and health-promoting exercise which combines deep breathing and relaxation with gentle, flowing, physical movements.

According to the NHS, studies have shown that it can help people aged 65 and over to reduce stress, improve posture, balance and general mobility, and increase muscle strength in the legs.

Other research suggests tai chi can reduce the risk of falls among older people, as well as its ability to improve mobility in the ankles, hips and knees in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Nationwide, the Royal Voluntary Service enables 20,000 volunteers to give their skills, experience and time to help people in need in hospitals, at home and in the community.

Originally set up as the Women’s Voluntary Service in 1938, the charity started out helping civilians during the Second World War, but changed their name in 2013 to reflect the role played by men as well as women.

The charity also aims to help improve hospital stays, aid recovery after being discharged and help them better support themselves at home.

For more information about the event on Wednesday, June 19 call 01432 273590 or email herefordshirehub@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk.