Hallam experts advise government on physical activity guidelines

Sheffield Hallam University academics advise Department of Health and Social Care and Chief Medical Officers on revisions to physical activity guidelines.

Professor Rob Copeland and Dr David Broom were part of a team of health and physical activity experts from across the country advising on the revision of the outdated guidelines, set out by the four UK Chief Medical Officers.

The new guidelines are an update to those released in 2011, but the overall message remains the same: any activity is better than none, and more is better still.

Professor Rob Copeland, Director of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) at Sheffield Hallam, said: “Being physically active is good for you, for me, for society, the environment and the economy. Being active can help prevent and treat numerous chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers. The promotion of physical activity therefore needs to be based on the latest scientific evidence to ensure that accurate and informed messages are communicated.

“The latest review of the UK’s Chief Medical Officers guidelines represents the latest scientific thinking on physical activity across the life course and will add to the continued drive from across the health and care system to support the role of physical activity in enabling healthier lives.”

Six expert working groups comprised of physical activity experts from around the UK were put together in January 2018, with the task of reviewing new evidence relating to physical activity and health and adjust the guidelines accordingly.

The guidelines reiterate that adults should minimise time spent sedentary, as well as undertaking activities to develop or maintain muscle strength at least twice a week.

For the first time, the report includes advice tailored to pregnant women, new mothers and those with a disability, including safe levels of activity and the benefits this can bring.

The guidelines also emphasise the importance of building and retaining strength and balance and recommend older people take up dancing, bowls or even activities like tai chi to help stave off injury and illness. Falls are the number one reason over-65s are taken to A&E.

Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: “Physical activity is an under-appreciated asset in our clinical arsenal. It is cheap and brings a long list of health benefits.

“As we age, our muscles weaken and we can become stiff, leading to falls and difficulty performing everyday activities. Physical activity can prevent fragility and support mobility in old age. By keeping active, both throughout the day and also through hobbies, we can slow muscle and bone decline, ultimately keeping us independent for longer.”

From ground-breaking research to extensive and pioneering training programmes, Sheffield Hallam University is a national leader in creating innovative solutions that enable healthier lives.

Situated at the heart of the Olympic Legacy Park (OLP) in Sheffield, the AWRC is a world renowned centre for physical activity research and innovation, dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the population through innovations that help people move.

It tackles key issues including; static levels of physical activity, rising obesity, drug and alcohol misuse as well as seeking to develop preventative measures against life-limiting diseases and illnesses.

Find the full report here.

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