Scots encouraged to get stronger to stay healthy

Older adults advised to build muscle strength to avoid injury & illness in later life

Sunday 8th September 2019

The importance of building strength as part of a healthy lifestyle has been emphasised by the UK’s leading doctors in new physical activity guidelines.

The chief medical officers for Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland advise people take up dancing, bowls or other activities like tai chi to help stave off illness and injury in old age.

The guidelines also advise on safe levels of activity for pregnant women or new mothers, and the many benefits that keeping active can bring.

This includes recommendations for the first time for new mothers on the amount of exercise needed to help them regain strength, ease back pain and reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said:

“You always feel better for being active and we want as many people as possible to protect their future health and start their journey to a healthier life now.

“Since 2011, the evidence on the benefits of physical activity for our health has become even more compelling.

“Much of the guidance has been retained, such as 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity.

“But there is now greater flexibility in how these goals can be achieved.”

Adults are encouraged to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking or cycling or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity such as running.

The new guidance is an update from guidelines published in 2011 and now recommends people undertake strength-based exercise at least two days a week.

Children and young people are recommended to aim for an average of at least 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous activity.

There is a growing body of strong evidence that physical activity protects against a range of chronic conditions, and meeting the guidelines can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 40%, coronary heart disease by 35% and depression by 30%.

“Our environment can make it difficult to be healthy,” adds Dr Calderwood, “and our health is being damaged by inactivity. But the good news is that even small changes can make a big difference over time.

“Any amount of physical activity is beneficial – the new guidelines therefore emphasise that any is better than none, and more is better still.”