The health benefits of physical activity are important at all ages" but may be of particular importance to older people. The role of physical activity in promoting an individual's health changes as they get older, with the importance of disease prevention becoming less important than the role physical activity has to play in the maintenance of functional ability and the prevention of disability, immobility and isolation:
- prevention of disease — regular physical activity helps weight control and helps prevent osteoporosis, non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, stroke and probably also colonic cancer;
- even healthy people lose strength, power and endurance as they get older and this has important functional consequences for the performance of everyday activities — regular physical activity increases strength, power, endurance and flexibility even in old age;
- prevention of disability — appropriate physical training improves the physical performance of people with disabling symptoms of intermittent claudication, angina pectoris, heart failure, asthma, arthritis and chronic bronchitis;
- prevention of immobility — for people with severe disabilities immobility itself can lead to further health problems, including faecal impaction, incontinence, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, gravitational oedema and skin ulceration;
- prevention of isolation — recreational physical activity offers opportunities for socialisation, reducing the problems of loneliness and depression.
It is likely that the intensity of physical activity is unimportant for the prevention of immobility or isolation. For prevention of disability and maintenance of physical performance, it is the relative intensity of physical activity (for example, moderate or vigorous compared to that individual's maximum), as opposed to the absolute intensity (for example, 4 or 5 kcal/min irrespective of that individual's maximum), which is most important. For the prevention of disease, it is not known if it is the absolute or relative intensity of physical activity which is critical. Owing to the shift in the role of physical activity towards the importance of maintaining independence, this report will assume that it is the relative intensity of physical activity which is most important in determining its benefit to the health of older people.
Editor's comments - [ This report is based on the merged results of two surveys of physical activity, conducted in 1990 and 1991, using the same survey instruments — the Allied Dunbar National Fitness Survey (ADNFS) and the Health Education Authority National Survey of Activity and Health (HEANSAH). The methodology of these two surveys has been fully described elsewhere. The ADNFS was a national study incorporating details of current and past activity and the results of a physical appraisal to measure fitness levels. The HEANSAH did not include a physical appraisal. ] Reference this?Cryer, J. (2013). This page title in italics. Retrieved date, from In the text: Cryer (2013)
Reference : Skelton, D. Young, A. Walker, A. Hoinville, E. (1999). Physical activity in later life: Further analysis of the Allied Dunbar national fitness survey and the Health Education Authority national survey of activity and health. London: Health Education Authority
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