Over-65s Urged To Exercise More To Tackle Obesity

In Business, Employee Benefits, Healthcare by Stephen Ellis

People over 65 should take up dancing, bowls and activities like tai chi to tackle obesity. That’s the advice from the UK’s top health leaders as part of new national guidelines, which have been issued for the first time since 2011, with a focus on trying to prevent frailty as people age.

As well as reducing strain on the NHS, the new guidelines from the Department of Health are also designed to act as personal blueprints to help individuals avoid dangerous weight gain.

The new guidelines emphasise the importance of cardiovascular exercise and building strength and balance for adults. These areas of focus are particularly significant for older people because falls are the number one reason why they end up in A&E.

Experts say that routine daily activities, such as swimming, gardening, walking or climbing stairs, could reduce the chances of an older person having a fall.

‘Prevent fragility, support mobility’

Furthermore, the Chief Medical Officers of all four UK nations said over-65s should do activities like bowls or dancing on at least two days each week and “strength activities” such as yoga or carrying shopping.

Prof Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “As we age, our muscles weaken and we can become stiff, leading to falls and difficulty performing everyday activities. Physical activity can prevent fragility and support mobility in old age.”

She added that by keeping active, both during the day and with hobbies, older people can slow bone decline, which will keep them independent for longer.

Another recommendation laid out in the new guidelines is that older people should wear step counters to help monitor their activity levels and remind them to get moving when they have been sedentary for an extended period of time.

In addition to improving bone health and reducing older people’s risk of falls, physical activity also protects against a range of chronic conditions. By just meeting the guidelines, individuals can reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by 40%, coronary heart disease by 35% and depression by 30%.

When it comes to our health, there aren’t many “golden bullets” but regular exercise is certainly one of the best things people can do to fight frailty as they age.

With a potentially ageing workforce, it is vital that wellness is on the agenda for all employees, irrespective of their age. Studies have shown it is never too late to get fitter and I use the word ‘fitter’ instead of ‘fit’ because any improvement will reap rewards.

Employers need to encourage all of their staff to think healthy, not just the younger ones. The return on this investment will be there. But a word of caution… we are seeing more and more reliance on apps and online assistance. Please remember that not everybody engages with these mediums – especially older staff – so it is vital to offer a whole range of health and wellbeing initiatives.

Stephen joined Premier Choice in 2006 as a Group Risk consultant and became Head of Group Risk in June 2013. In December 2017, Stephen also took over responsibility for the Protection division within Premier Choice and works to grow this in the same way he has the Group Risk division. Protection is a specialist area and fits well with his experience and expertise in the group risk market.