31 Jan 2013

Over 65s urged to keep moving

8:44 am on 31 January 2013

Health officials are urging older people to increase their physical activity so they can live longer and better lives.

The Ministry of Health has produced its first guidelines on physical activity for people aged 65 and older.

People over 65 make up 14% of the population, a figure that's expected to reach 25% by 2061.

The ministry says it's important older people are healthy for their own sake and that of society.

It says those over 65, even if frail, should be physically active and spend less time sitting down.

Chief medical officer Don Mackie says people are never too old to become active and every little bit counts.

"Even if its simply carrying the shopping, that's a physical activity, it's aerobic, it improves balance."

The guidelines say any activity is better than nothing, but the aim should be 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming or playing with grandchildren.

Waikato University sports specialist Professor Bevan Grant says World Health Organisation is clear that inactivity is a health risk.

The guidelines are aimed at health practitioners, however the ministry says it will produce a fact sheet for the public.