Preventing weakness and stiffness – A top priority for health and social care
Abstract With growing evidence that sarcopenia, disability and frailty can be prevented with physical activity, people living with pain, stiffness and weakness due to a musculoskeletal condition should be offered physical activity as a preventive strategy. By changing beliefs and attitudes towards ageing and raising the value and importance of physical activity, disability can be avoided or delayed and the costly burden of social care lessened. The effects of ageing and the effects of muscle strength loss are often confused. Older people can increase their strength and decrease their fitness to that of an average person a decade younger by regular exercise by decreasing the fitness gap. For illustration, the inability to get up from a chair and get to the toilet on time is often trigger for social care. People who are homebound are especially at risk of inactivity, and we need to be innovative and creative with ways to get them out of their homes, engaged within the community and using technology to interact with them at home. We need a ubiquitous call to action and cultural shift throughout the health and social care ecosystem to bring all the elements together, providing a platform and tools to be more active and signpost to activity as a therapy for weakness and joint stiffness. Behaviour change and stratified approaches to identify complex cases, and one-to-one interventions are key to the success of this approach. Local leisure centres remain at the very heart of communities and should be wellness centres for our ageing populations making them the frontline of the NHS.
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