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Carry shopping 'to help stop falls in older age'

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith
man with shopping basket

29th September 2017 – Too many older people are letting their muscles waste away because they're not taking part in strengthening activities, physiotherapists are warning.

A poll suggests that millions of people might not even be carrying their shopping home each week.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) says that strengthening exercises can help us reduce the likelihood of falling as we age – and it can be achieved through everyday activities that don't involve signing up for gym membership.

Working out the major muscles

Guidelines say that most people over 65 should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking and cycling each week. They also recommend strength exercises on 2 or more days of the week to work all the major muscles.

For people up to the age of 64, the guidelines say these sessions can include exercising with weights or lifting and carrying heavy loads such as groceries.

The CSP poll found that:

  • 25% of men and 23% of women do no strengthening exercises at all each week.
  • A further 9% of men and 11% of women said they did so only once a week – leaving them 1 session short of the recommendations
  • There were some striking regional differences, with 48% of adults in Glasgow missing the twice a week target compared with just 21% in Plymouth

Those approaching retirement are not doing enough to protect their long-term health, the survey suggests. It found that 34% of people aged 55 to 64 are missing the target completely.

Across both age ranges, 19% say they don't know how to do strengthening activities while a further 18% say they don't want to do them.

Health also played a part, with 35% of respondents citing an existing condition for preventing them doing strength activities.

The poll involved 2,007 adults in the UK aged over 55 who were interviewed online earlier this month by Opinium Research.

Housework and gardening

The results come after a study in the medical journal, The Lancet, found that everyday activities were just as effective at keeping the heart healthy as working out in a gym.

Professor Karen Middleton, chief executive of the CSP, says in a statement: "We must move past the idea that becoming weaker and frailer is inevitable as we get older.

"Research shows getting stronger brings a whole host of health benefits so it is incredibly important that people don’t overlook strengthening when being active.

"As the guidelines set out, it doesn’t mean immediately hitting the gym to lift weights – to start, it can be digging in the garden or simple bodyweight exercises like standing up out of a chair 10 times."

Keep on moving

Examples of strengthening exercises recommended by the NHS include:

  • Carrying or moving heavy loads, such as groceries
  • Jumping, dancing and using steps
  • Digging and shovelling in the garden
  • Push-ups or sit-ups
  • Yoga
  • Lifting weights

The CSP says muscle strengthening can help guard against falls that are responsible for 95% of all hip fractures and cost the NHS more than £1 billion a year.

Reviewed on September 29, 2017

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