AKIPRESS.COM - Walking is just not enough, according to a new review of the evidence from Public Health England, which reveals a major disconnect between the exercise people need and what they actually do, The Guardian reports.
Those who thought 10,000 steps a day or a brisk daily trudge from a further bus stop meant they were doing enough to stay fit and healthy have got it wrong. People should also all be doing tai chi, weight lifting or ballroom dancing – although carrying home heavy shopping bags might do the trick.
Aerobic exercise, such as walking or gardening, is good for the heart and improves the circulation. PHE’s review said that muscle and bone strengthening and balance activities are also vital for health and future wellbeing, but they are neglected.
In older adults poor muscle strength increased the risk of a fall by 76%, PHE said. Those who have already had a fall are three times more likely to fall again. Strengthening and balance activities not only help prevent falls, but also help improve mood, sleeping patterns, increase energy levels and reduce the risk of an early death.
“People’s understanding of walking more and doing aerobic activity, keeping up the heart rate, has grown, but the need for us all to do two sessions of strength and balance exercise a week has been the Cinderella of public health advice,” said Louise Ansari from the Centre for Ageing Better, a charity set up with lottery funding a few years ago which co-wrote the review with PHE.
In 2011, the UK’s four chief medical officers issued guidance containing three pieces of exercise and activity advice, but only some of it has been well followed. Walking has become increasingly popular. But fewer people have taken on board the need to stand more and sit less and muscle strengthening and balance have been largely forgotten.
According to the Health Survey for England in 2016, 66% of men and 58% of women met the aerobic guideline – 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. But only 31% of men and 23% of women also did muscle-strengthening exercise and that dropped to 12% over the age of 65.