Dr Andrew Boyd and Prof Roger O'Sullivan
A seminar organised by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) presented research examining how older people can increase their levels of physical activity has heard that GPs have a responsibility to get older people doing more exercise.
Just 26% of older people across the country report taking part in healthy levels of weekly physical activity, according to recent reports.
Guidelines recommend that those aged 65 and over should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity weekly to achieve benefits for every aspect of health.
Dr Andrew Boyd, activity champion from the Royal College of General Practitioners, told those gathered that Ireland must focus on getting older people active as our population ages. He suggested: GPs have an important role to play in supporting all patients to optimise their physical activity. GPs and other health professionals in Offaly can be role models for active and healthy lives. GPs and health professionals can empower older people to recognise the benefits of being more active and take control of their own health and lifestyle."
Dr Boyd added: “GPs are key to older people getting more physical activity. Older people have a strong connection and professional relationship with their GP. GPs, with the support of other health professionals, have an important role to play in providing information to older people and signposting them to physical activity opportunities in their local community.”
Over 977,000 people are currently aged 65 or over across the island. This will increase to over 2 million people by 2051.
Prof Roger O’Sullivan, Interim CEO at IPH, said: “It’s important that we keep as active as possible as we grow older. We know from research that as we age, physical activity decreases. However, the benefits of physical activity for older people are significant – both physically and mentally."
"Simple steps such as walking to the shops rather than driving, meeting a friend for a walk rather than sitting down for a chat, and simply sitting less, can have enormous benefits for us all as we age," he concluded.