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Physical activity and older adults: What works? - The role of health professionals

24 October 2019

The ‘walkability’ of Ireland’s cities and towns needs to be improved to support people to live healthier lives, a conference organised by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) was told.

Healthcare professionals, government officials, policymakers and community organisations, from North and South, gathered to consider the role of physical activity in keeping the island of Ireland’s ageing population healthier for longer.

Over 977,000 people are currently aged 65 or over across the island. This will increase to over 2 million people by 2051.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people aged 65 and over should do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as a brisk walk, five times a week.

But research shows that 1 in 2 people aged 65 and over across the island do not get enough physical activity.

Keynote speaker Prof Shane O’Mara, the author of a new book In Praise of Walking, told the conference that more is needed to support older people to build walking into their lives.

Prof O’Mara said: “Our bodies are designed for walking. Within the first few months of life, as babies we try to walk. But as we grow older, at a time when the benefits of physical activity are so important, we become less active and walk less.

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