The focus of research over the last number of years has been on how exercise and physical activity can be used in both the prevention and in the treatment of chronic disease. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of a number of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Exercise is important throughout the lifespan. Ageing is associated with the decrease in muscle mass and strength. And exercise can help to maintain muscle strength and thus reverse the effects of normal ageing.

This in turn will help maintain function by increasing the endurance for everyday tasks, and therefore help you to remain independent. Exercise also helps balance, which is very important in the prevention of falls. Exercise prevents the loss in bone mass, which is seen with normal ageing. Exercise also leads to benefits in brain function and can help prevent memory loss. The aim for each person who has no health conditions that would limit physical activity is to exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes per week. And most people will break this down into 30 minutes a day for five days a week. We should also include muscle strengthening exercise on at least two days of each week.

The level of intensity should be moderate. And at this level, you should feel warmer and feel an increase in your heart rate and breathing rate, but the intensity should be such that you can still hold a conversation.

In my next Newsletter I will be focusing on Strength training, which builds muscle mass, helping independence, and making it easier to lift objects, to get in and out of a car. And later on Flexibility, which maintains range of movement, making it easier to look behind while driving, tie shoelaces. And balance work, which reduces the risk of falling. If you have a medical condition, do discuss your exercise programme with a health/fitness expert to see if there are specific activities you need to avoid or modify. An exercise programme can be a challenge, particularly if you have health concerns. However, everyone can perform some type of activity, no matter what age you are or what the physical or medical problem and reap the benefits from exercise.

It’s important to ensure adequate warm up and cool down to prevent any injury or any sore muscles after exercise. Exercise should not cause pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath.

So a question to consider is how you could incorporate more exercise into your daily life. Identifying opportunities that would enable you do more physical activity and less time sedentary.