Doctors should prescribe exercise to over 55s, researchers claim Monday 9th September

Doctors should prescribe exercise as well as medical treatment to over-55s, researchers have claimed amid concerns too many are not active enough.

Some 71 per cent of adult women and 73 per cent of men are thought to be getting less than 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, which experts claim is needed to stay healthy.

But researchers found that prescribing a 24-week program of exercise classes, such as swimming or pilates, to older adults encouraged them to be active for an extra 29 minutes per week on average.

So-called “Exercise on referral” schemes already exist in the UK but are not widely used, with the Northumbria program currently catering for just 2,000 people.

Presenting her findings yesterday at the British Science Festival in Newcastle Coral Hanson, a PhD candidate at Northumbria University, said the schemes could be particularly useful for patients with chronic conditions like high cholesterol or obesity.

She said: “People who were over 55 were much more likely to complete [the course] – over half of those aged 55 and over were still attending after 24 weeks.

“We found that exercise on referral schemes were a valuable way to encourage older participants to be more active. Health professionals could improve attention to the scheme by focusing referrals on those who are over 55 years old.

“We know that as they get older people become less active, so for this scheme to be able so show that it is a good way to encourage people to be active as they get older – thats a really positive thing.”

Please click here to read more on this story.