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You are here: Home > Midlife matters > MM selected articles > Rest is rust, motion is lotionTuesday 23 April 2024   

Rest is rust, motion is lotion

20-Jun-2020 Rest is rust, motion is lotion

Have you ever considered being more active and not started? 'I used to be able to do that - that's a young person's game'. 'It would be ridiculous for me to start now, what’s the point, I'm past all that'. As strong as these thoughts may be, I will attempt to outline below why they are not objectively true, says Ryan Faldo, a Physiotherapist working within the NHS.

I would like to begin by challenging the belief that ageing, becoming chronologically older, is a direct cause of decline in physical resilience and quality of life. It's truer to say that often people become weaker and less able, slowly and insidiously. Over time, it is very easy to become less-meaningfully active. Key to maintaining and improving physical resilience, robustness and therefore quality of life, is being active as we age.

This is not to undermine anyone with a health condition or concerns. If this is an issue, you should consult a Doctor or health professional prior to adopting a new diet or exercise regime. However, incorporating activity into your life in an appropriate way is vital in managing a number of long-term health conditions (Exercise - the Miracle Cure - Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, 2020). Also, in my experience, when rehabilitating people in an acute hospital setting, those who have been more active and taken care of their health prior to admission, tend to recover quicker and have better long-term outcomes.

Starting to be active

'The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.'

Remember, the best activity is one you enjoy, so think about something active that you like doing and start there.

In 2019, the UK Chief Medical Officer updated guidance on the amount and type of meaningful physical activity to be performed in a week (Physical activity guidelines, 2020). The guidance outlines options which allow for individual application. Being active should ideally be part of your daily routine, as this helps it become habitual and sustainable. Intensity of activity can vary, but the recommendation is a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity (eg. brisk walking) per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (eg. playing a sport) per week.

There are different physical attributes recognised in the guidelines as well. Activity to build strength should be completed two days a week. Strength training helps to keep muscles, bones and joints strong. Balance exercises should also be included to increase function and decrease the risk of falls. These activities do not have to be mutually exclusive. For example, a gym-based resistance workout could count for 60 minutes of vigorous activity and strength building. An online Tai Chi class could include 60 minutes of moderate activity, as well as balance and stability. Alternatively, a morning of gardening could count for moderate or vigorous activity, including strength and balance.

Make a start today - it's never too late!

I would therefore encourage us all to pursue a goal of ageing as healthily as we can, for as long as we can. There is a growing body of research showing the health benefits of being active. Subjectively, people report improved sleep, better stress management and improved quality of life from being more active. There is also statistically less chance of developing lifestyle-related illnesses, such as Type-two diabetes, cardiovascular disease (Physical activity guidelines, 2020). In addition, evidence shows that exercise at a high intensity, even in older populations, produces a greater health benefit when compared to those that mainly undertook exercise with moderate intensity (Stensvold et al., 2020).

I would like to acknowledge that it can be intimidating to begin something new. But I hope the benefits speak for themselves. If you would like more information on how to get started, I would recommend The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy's Love activity, hate exercise? campaign (2020).

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