A major new study by the University of Bristol has confirmed the
benefits of exercise on our health and wellbeing.
The results have led to UK's four Chief Medical Officers (CMOs)
updating their guidance on how exercise can help people stay fit
The UK's new physical activity guidelines offer advice to people
of all ages and - for the first time include pregnant women, new
mums and disabled adults.
Drawing on the most up-to-date scientific evidence on the
benefits of physical activity, the new guidelines emphasise the
importance of building strength and balance for adults, as well as
focusing on cardiovascular exercise.
Led by Dr Charlie Foster from the Centre for Exercise, Nutrition
and Health Sciences at the University of Bristol, the study
involved over 500 academics, health professionals and members of
the public from across the UK.
"Exercise is one of the cheapest
and most effective forms of medicine, with far-reaching benefits
for both our health and happiness. It is vital for all age groups
and abilities." - Dr Foster.
Exercise helps protects against chronic
There is strong evidence that physical activity protects against
a range of chronic conditions.
Meeting the guidelines can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by
40 per cent, coronary heart disease by 35 per cent and depression
by 30 per cent.
Under the new guidelines, adults are advised to undertake
strength-based exercise at least two days a week - which can help
delay the natural decline in muscle mass and bone density that
starts from around 50.
It is believed that this is a central reason why older people
lose their ability to carry out daily tasks.
To avoid falls - the number one reason older people are
hospitalised - the guidelines suggest daily activities ranging from
brisk walking, to climbing stairs, swimming and gardening.
"The addition of strength-based exercise at least two days a
week for adults will help delay the natural decline in muscle mass
and bone density that starts from around 50. And into older age, we
recommend regular strength, flexibility and balance activities to
maintain physical function, ultimately helping to stave off injury
Guidance for new mums and
The guidelines also include world-first recommendations for new
mothers, advising that a moderate amount of exercise will help them
regain strength, ease back pain and reduce the risk of gestational
New advice is also available to encourage good development in
babies and children, with the UK Chief Medical Officers
recommending lots of 'tummy time'.
As much active play as possible in children under five is
encouraged, and older children are recommended to be active for an
average of 60 minutes a day, across the week.
Move it or lose it
The report also highlights the risks of inactivity and sedentary
behaviour for health. There have been notable developments in the
evidence base for the impact this has on people's health, with
research suggesting sitting time is associated with heart disease,
cancer risk and obesity.
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
"As we age, our muscles weaken and we can become stiff, leading
to falls and difficulty preforming 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."