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Give your bones a workout, public told

A man and woman doing the plank exercise

Too many of us are neglecting to do exercises for strong muscles and bones, says Public Health England (PHE).

It’s launched a new report giving advice on how people can age better by doing the right workouts.

While the message about doing aerobic exercise for a healthy heart and lungs is getting through, people are less clear about the need to look after their overall strength too, it says.

We should all be doing strengthening exercises at least twice a week.

Lifting weights is one option, but taking up tennis or dancing also works, says PHE and the Centre for Ageing Better.

Activities offering the most benefit include:

  • Ball games
  • Racket sports
  • Dance
  • Nordic walking (walking with poles to give your upper body a workout as well as your legs)
  • Resistance training (using weights or bands or your own body weight to push or pull against for a workout)

Yoga, Tai Chi and cycling are also somewhat good for bones, muscles and balance.

Only one in three men and one in four women is doing enough of the right types of exercise to keep both healthy and strong, say the experts.

Muscle and bone strengthening and balance activity can improve physical and wellbeing at any age and reduce the risk of an early death.

It can also help improve health during difficult or life-changing times like pregnancy, menopause, onset of or diagnosis of disease, retirement and recovery from hospitalisation.

Use it or lose it

The experts advise young people to build up muscle and bone mass, which tends to peak by the time we reach 30.

Older adults need exercises to maintain what they’ve hopefully already got and slow the natural decline that happens with age.Those who are frail and/or at risk of fractures, including people with osteoporosis, should be especially careful, however, particularly with higher-impact activities such as tennis, and seek advice from their doctor.

Dr Zoe Williams from Public Health England said: “Being active isn’t just about getting your heart pumping – although this is a good way to begin. Strength and balance activities work in conjunction with cardio activities like brisk walking, and come with a range of health benefits throughout your life – it’s never too late to start.”

Adults should do:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, every week AND
  • Strength exercises on two or more days a week that will work all the major muscles
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