Physical Activity Guidelines – Part 1

The new Physical Activity Guidelines were released yesterday and I thought I would take a short break from the falls prevention topic I was on to discuss them. Especially as I found out the other day my Mum doesn't even know them (and I can picture her reading that with an indignant look on her face so I will also point out she is active!)

Whilst the government has been very successful at the 5-a-day message it seems the exercise message isn't being pushed as successfully (when I took a very small random poll it seemed that the 10,000 steps was the most recognised).

I am going to take a summary paragraph from the new older adult physical activity guidelines throughout this week and just go into a little more detail. If you are interested in reading the whole report you can find it here.

Describes the new physical activity guidelines for older adults
Taken from UK Chief Medical Officers' Physical Activity Guidelines 2019 Infographic

Firstly what is an older adult? In these guidelines you are an older adult from the age of 65. However it is also acknowledged that there is a large range of health that can be encountered after 65+ therefore three sub-groups have been identified.

  • Active Older Adults - already active
  • In Transition - losing function but otherwise healthy
  • Frailer Older Adults - those who are frail.

These groups aren't seperated by age but by functionality of the adult. Whilst the activities and intensity between these groups will look different what doesn't change are the basic guidelines (which we will discuss in further detail later in the week) that they do strength and balance, aerobic fitness and are less sedentary.

From the report

"Older adults should participate in daily physical activity to gain health benefits, including maintenance of good physical and mental health, wellbeing, and social functioning. Some physical activity is better than none: even light activity brings some health benefits compared to being sedentary, while more daily physical activity provides greater health and social benefits. "

All activity counts and anything is better than nothing (sort of, more of that in later posts). Exercise isn't just good for us physically, evidence is starting to show that increasing physical activity can help reduce loneliness and social isolation as well.

However one of the reasons they are saying that some physical activity is better than none is because a lot of older adults are doing so little activity at the moment that even small increases mean they will see health benefits. Some of those older adults will have limitations due to disease or impariment yet evidence now demonstrates that there is no minimum amount of physical activity or minimum amount of health needed to achieve some benefits through exercise. The aim of giving greater emphasis to regular light activity is hopefully that older and frailer adults who think they are past exercise or not participating in any physical activity will start doing something/anything.

Next time I will talk about the 'Be Active' part of the guidelines. What they are now and how they can be reached.

For more information on what I offer in the Chichester area please see my Personal Training and Classes page