Enjoy Better Physical and Mental Health

exercise and health

Any level of activity is better for your health than none, according to health experts at a seminar in Dublin today (25 September 2014).

Keeping active for better ageing, a seminar hosted by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI), discussed the benefits for older people and the reasons why older people as a group don’t have higher levels of physical activity.

The keynote speaker was Professor Ken Fox University of Bristol, who argued that older people often see activity in purely practical terms rather than a source of pleasure or leisure. Therefore he stressed the importance of getting older people moving in daily life such as trips to the shops, housework and simply sitting less. For some older people, he said, the guidelines suggesting 30 minutes daily activity may be too high but shorter 10 minute bursts of activity may be beneficial to the least active.

Findings from CARDI-funded research were presented by Dr Frank Doyle, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and Dr Elaine Murtagh, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick.

Dr Doyle’s study found that exercise reduced depressive symptoms in older people irrespective of them having pain. Dr Murtagh’s research showed the very low levels of activity of older people in Ireland, North and South. It revealed just 22% of older people in Northern Ireland and 37% in the Republic of Ireland meeting the recommended weekly minimum of 150 minutes of activity.

Other speakers included Dr Cate Hartigan, Director of Health Promotion at the Health Service Executive and Dr Mark Tully, Queen’s University Belfast.

Dr Roger O’Sullivan, Director of CARDI said, “We have known for some time about the benefits of physical activity for older people but this seminar shows that taking simple steps to increase physical activity can have enormous benefits for us all as we age. Research shows us that as we age activity decreases and low levels of activity are evident among older people in Ireland, North and South. However, by encouraging older people to incorporate activity into their daily lives they can reap mental and physical rewards.”

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