“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 jointly commissioned the expert review with Public Health England.
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.
Muscles tend to be at their peak in our 30s, and the muscle tone is going by the time we reach 40 unless we actively work on it. The best forms of exercise, according to the review of evidence, are ball games, racket sports, dance, Nordic walking and resistance training – usually training with weights, but including body weight exercises which can be performed anywhere".
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