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Exercise class

Keeping physically active

We want more people to be more physically active in later life.

Keeping physically active in later life has many benefits. It improves physical and mental health, and it enables people to stay independent for longer and do the things they value most.

Keeping physically active
I think that's what doing exercise does for you. It keeps you more independent for longer. 

As well as being more physically active in general, we know that maintaining and improving muscle strength and balance can help people in later life continue to carry out activities of daily living and reduce their risk of falls. 

We are focusing on giving more people the opportunity to do more strength and balance activity. 

Why work on it? 

Maintaining and improving muscle strength and balance helps people in later life continue being able to independently carry out daily tasks and reduces their risk of falls.  
 
Falls are common among people in later life and are the most frequent cause of hip fractures. People who have had a fall often lose confidence and mobility and may need extra help with daily living activities like eating, dressing and going to the toilet. Falls are also very expensive for our health and social care system. 
 
There are many things that can cause older adults to fall, including long-term health conditions, deteriorating vision, medication that causes dizziness and hazards in the home or community environment. However, we know that low muscle strength and poor balance are the two most common preventable risk factors for falls.  
 
The Chief Medical Officers' guidelines recommend that older adults do at least two sessions of muscle strengthening and balance activities per week. 

Yet very few people meet this target, and awareness of these guidelines is low. In addition, although some local areas provide strength and balance exercise programmes, these vary in quality and coverage. 

Strength and balance
What we’re working on

We are funding the Chief Medical Offices' Expert Group on physical activity to review the evidence on the health benefits of strength and balance exercise and the type and extent of activity that makes the most difference. 

We are working with Public Health England (PHE), NHS England and others to increase awareness and uptake of strength and balance activity. This includes contributing to and supporting the National Falls Prevention Coordination Group, chaired by PHE.  

We are exploring how we can support local areas to commission strength and balance programmes and how to increase the number of people who are referred onto these programmes. 

Nordic walking

New evidence review supports current UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidance of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity as well as strength exercises on two or more days a week.

Strength and balance infographics

Strength and balance infographics

We want more people to be more physically active in later life. Maintaining and improving muscle strength and balance can help people in later life live independently and reduce the risk of falls.