Modern conveniences such as online shopping and mobility scooters can ease the physical strain on those who are getting on in years. And you can hardly blame pensioners for wanting to take things easy in their retirement after a lifetime of work.
But is a lack of exercise actually causing problems for older people, and making it more likely that they could suffer serious injury? The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy says millions of pensioners are failing to maintain their strength, which is putting them at greater risk of falls. According to a survey carried out by the CSP, 25% of over-65s don’t do any strength exercises at all – this can include yoga, as well as activities not usually seen as ‘exercise’, such as digging in the garden or carrying shopping bags.
The CSP says that the increasing popularity of online shopping means fewer pensioners are now carrying home groceries themselves.Muscle waste in pensioners can have serious consequences – the vast majority of hip fractures among older people come from falls, costing the NHS around £1 billion a year. Professor Karen Middleton, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, believes strength exercises can help pensioners live healthier and longer lives.
Professor Middleton explained: “We must move past the idea that becoming weaker and frailer is inevitable as we get older. Research shows getting stronger brings a whole host of health benefits so it is incredibly important that people don’t overlook strengthening when being active. This doesn’t mean immediately hitting the gym to lift weights – to start, it can be digging in the garden or simple bodyweight exercises like standing up out of a chair 10 times. There are easy ways to do it but the essential thing is to get started and these poll results show a lot of work needs to be done to get that message out.”