The importance of physical activity among older people.

As we reach our forties, our muscle mass begins to decrease roughly 3-5% with each decade. Muscle is paramount for our balance, bone strength and keeping us mobilise. Without it, our ability to move and be independent can be compromised. Physical activity is an effective and economical way of decreasing your risk for noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, strokes, diabetes, some types of cancers, muscle loss, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, delay in onset dementia and overall quality of life.  People who are not active and do not adhere to the world health organisation have a 20-30% increased risk of death compared to people who reach these guidelines.


To reach the recommended guidelines the World Health Organisation states the optimal effects is to adhere to a prescribed exercise program of 150-300 minutes of low to moderate aerobic physical activity which includes walking, cycling or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity throughout the week. Additionally, muscle-strengthening activities that incorporate all major muscle groups should be introduced at least 2 or more days of the week to provide additional health benefits.


Benefits of adhering to these guidelines include: 

  • Improved muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness 
  • Improved bone mineral density 
  • Reduce the risk of hypertension and high cholesterol
  • Decrease risk of falls and vertebral fractures 
  • Maintain healthy body weight
  • Decrease in Incident site-specific cancer (bladder, breast, colon)


It’s never too late to start moving again and engage in regular physical activity. The key is to do something that is individualised for you and doing something you enjoy. If you are unsure what exercises are safe or need assistance with a program, contact Medicine in Motion for professional advice from an accredited exercise physiologist.

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