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Chief medical officers include bone-strengthening exercises in updated physical activity guidance

Osteoporosis Management

17 Sep 2019

The UK’s chief medical officers have issued updated national guidance on physical activity, which includes a focus on muscle and bone health.

The report reiterates that adults should minimise the time they spend sedentary and build up levels of aerobic activity, as well as undertake muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week – such as lifting weights or using resistance bands – to help stay active for longer.

Older adults should also engage in balance activities, such as dance and Tai Chi, in order to maintain balance and prevent falls, says the guidance.

These are important recommendations for bone health that reflect the guidance in Strong, Steady and Straight – our expert consensus statement on physical activity and exercise for osteoporosis.

Sarah Leyland, ROS Nurse Consultant and lead on our Strong, Steady and Straight consensus statement, says: “We welcome these updated guidelines that will help people to meet the general exercise guidance for health, while also looking after their bones.

“For the fitter older person, the report highlights the importance of combining muscle-strengthening exercise with weight-bearing exercise with ‘impact’ (such as running or jogging), as well as exercises to improve balance.

“The report therefore fits well with our consensus statement on physical activity and exercise for osteoporosis, reflecting its conclusions and recommending activities that help to promote bone strength, reduce falls risk and prevent fractures.”

Dawn Skelton, Professor in Ageing and Health at Glasgow Caledonian University and chair of the expert group that produced our consensus statement, said:

“Importantly, the report also echoes the main principles set out in our own guidance. These encourage a positive approach, reminding people that although ‘doing more’ is often going to provide the most benefit for health, ‘doing something’ is always better than nothing and finding the right approach for individuals, depending on their fitness and preferences, will be most successful.”

For the first time, the guidance also includes advice on being active during pregnancy and after giving birth, and for disabled adults.

For children and young people, the report recommends “a variety of types and intensities of physical activity across the week to develop movement skills, muscular fitness and bone strength.”

If you have questions about appropriate exercises and movements for your patients with osteoporosis, see our consensus statement or contact our osteoporosis specialist nurses.

We also have further information and resources on exercise and osteoporosis for your patients.