Active elderly can reduce NHS burden

A new report has argued that regular exercise can allow an older person to ‘drop a decade’ in their mobility, easing pressures on the NHS.

The article, published in the British Medical Journal, contends that frailty, dementia and disability are not inevitable consequences of ageing, but rather that the NHS should ‘prescribe’ exercise to aid in elderly patients ability to get up and move.

The authors of the report, who include the Centre for Ageing Better and UKactive, urge for more open spaces and facilities to help people travel actively. They claim that 150 minutes of moderate activity per week improves muscle strength and balance, as well as enhancing brain function - therefore reducing the risk of dementia and lowering the risk of needing residential care.

Currently, more than 60 per cent of in-patients reduce mobility and over 80 per cent of time is spent in a bed.

Anna Dixon, chief executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Falls account for four million hospital bed days every year. Physical activity that maintains and improves muscle strength and ability to balance is crucial in reducing the risk of falling, potentially saving the NHS £1 billion from hip fractures. Physical activity is also critical to helping people live independently as they get older. Health professionals need to do more to support older adults to be physically active, including inpatients and those with long term conditions.”