The state of the nation

In this section Pat Fox, the Silverhairs fitness guru,  will inform you of the latest in health fitness findings and issues for those 50 plus. We will synopsis the latest research on a wide variety of topics and in the future look to advise on exercise regimes that will improve your health, fitness and well-being.

So to begin with, just what are the facts and figures surrounding physical activity and health.

Research has shown that, In England, just 32% of men over 50 and 21% of women undertake the ‘recommended’ 30 minutes of daily exercise (be that walking, cycling or swimming). If you then look more closely at 65+ just 17% of men (14% in Scotland) and 12% of women (8% in Scotland) are currently taking the recommended amount of daily exercise according to the NHS (Obesity, physical activity and diet 2012)
Other findings from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (2012) found;
In England:
Just over a quarter of adults (26% of both men and women aged 16 or over) were classified as obese in 2010 (Body Mass Index (BMI) 30 or over).

A greater proportion of men than women (42% compared with 32%) were classified as overweight in 2010 (BMI 25 to less than 30).

Women were more likely than men (46% and 34% respectively) to have a raised waist circumference in 2010 (over 88cm for women and over 102 cm for men) which increased the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Using both BMI and waist circumference to assess risk of health problems, 22% of men were estimated to be at increased risk; 12% at high risk and 23% at very high risk in 2010. Equivalent figures for women were: 14%, 19% and 25%.

In 2010, around three in ten boys and girls (aged 2 to 15) were classed as either overweight or obese (31% and 29% respectively), which is very similar to the 2009 findings (31% for boys and 28% for girls).

We are all now aware of the myriad of diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, joint and muscle problems and high blood pressure associated with being overweight or obese – but just where do we sit compared to the rest of the world?

The percentage of a Countries population which is Obese (BMI above 30)… remember that exclude those just overweight! (source OECD Health Data)
Surveys reveal that almost 60 per cent of over-50s have not discussed their physical activity levels with their GP since turning 50.

“Our survey results are concerning. GPs should, as a matter of course, be discussing this issue with their patients,” said Dr Mike Knapton, Director of Prevention and Care at the British Heart Foundation. “Health professionals can do more in prompting patients to get active. [That’s where SilverHairs can help]. The BHF suggests fitness checks at 50 and at 60, focusing on disease prevention rather than treatment.

Now here are a couple of interesting tools that you will find intriguing! Both give you the ability to see the ‘Health of the Nation’
This Government Statistics dept tool lets you see the age demographic of people in your area and to see the projected age profile of the population over time. This could be quiet useful if you are looking for a particular club or activity to join which might attract a certain age group!

The Department for Health also has a very comprehensive tool that lets you see your local area profiles. Click on this link to a tool that allows you to drill down into your local area to see exactly how healthy the population is and what health issue prevail. Simply pass your mouse cursor over any area of the Map to see the statistics, and for the more ‘techie’ of you use the ‘filters’ to get even more in depth information.

In the next article we will look the cost of not being physically active… Click HERE 


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Pat Fox

Pat Fox is an exercise physiologist and exercise specialist. After graduating from Otago University in sport and exercise science he completed his MSc in exercise physiology at Brunel University. Pat has worked with a wide range of groups from young developing sportspeople, older age groups and those with specific needs such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculo-skeletal injury, high blood pressure, arthritis, obesity and those new to exercise.

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