Older Australians missing out on vital exercise to stay healthy

A national survey by Australia's national science agency has revealed how the health of older Australians could suffer if they don't flex their muscles at least twice a week.

The survey of more than 5,600 CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet subscribers found 65 per cent of people aged 51-70 years, and 86 per cent of people over 71, did not think resistance exercise was important for weight loss and overall health. Only one in two adults added resistance exercise to their weekly program.

"While resistance exercise is beneficial at any age, it becomes even more important as we get older and experience muscle loss associated with ageing," CSIRO Principal Research Scientist Professor Grant Brinkworth said.

"If you're in your 30s or 40s and not doing resistance exercise, establishing the habit now can provide many lifelong health benefits.

"Resistance exercise can help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, type II diabetes, and heart disease – and with millions of Australians living with two or more chronic diseases, it's critical that people exercise as they age to sustain their health and quality of life."

The survey also found that, overall, two-thirds of people were not aware of the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines, which recommends adults be active on most – preferably all – days.

Professor Brinkworth said only seven per cent of respondents knew the guidelines recommended at least two muscle-strengthening resistance exercise sessions a week, and 77 per cent thought brisk walking was the best way to lose weight.

ALGA’s federal election document has called for the Federal Government to promote healthier communities by investing in a Local Government Place-Based Preventative Health and Activity Program of $100 million over four years, which could see a cumulative Gross Domestic Product benefit of $292 million by the third year and up to 1,600 new jobs.