A healthy old age: realistic or futile goal?Older people need to be encouraged to exerciseExercise programmes benefit even those who are most severely disabledTraining showed noticeable improvement in elderly women

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7289.796/a (Published 31 March 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:796

Older people need to be encouraged to exercise

  1. Piers Simey, physical activity adviser (piers.simey@mswha.sthames.nhs.uk),
  2. Dawn Skelton, senior research fellow
  1. Merton, Sutton, and Wandsworth Health Authority, Mitcham, Surrey CR4 4TP
  2. University College London Institute of Human Performance, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore HA7 4LP
  3. Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
  4. London W5 3TU

    EDITOR—Four out of 10 people older than 50 are totally inactive, yet over half of sedentary people in this age group believe that they take part in enough physical activity to keep fit.1 Further paradoxes help explain this stark picture of low awareness and lost opportunity are highlighted by McMurdo.2 For the frailest older people, being sedentary is a greater risk than being active,3 but carers and professionals may encourage individual people to be less active. The minister for public health has called exercise the best buy in public health (Y Cooper, Royal College of Physicians, London, June 2000), yet exercise services have a history of minimal funding in the NHS, and leisure spending by local authorities mainly supports those already committed to exercise. Physical activity for younger people is a greater health policy priority, although programmes focusing on older people may be more effective. …

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