Mr Motivator joins experts in calling for action on over 50s' health
New figures show that over a third of over 55s have seen their strength decline since the COVID-19 outbreak, and nearly 40% are doing less exercise than last year.
Mr Motivator and the Centre for Ageing Better are calling for action to support over 50s to keep active and healthy.
Over a third of over 55s say their strength has declined since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to new figures from Sport England, compared to just 17% who say their strength has increased. Of this age group, 37% say they are doing less physical activity than they were this time last year. These figures are in stark contrast to younger age groups, with nearly half of 16-34 year olds saying their strength has improved, and 46% saying they are doing more exercise than this time last year. By contrast, under a third (31%) say they are doing less.
People in their 50s and over are already experiencing ‘deconditioning’ – a loss of physical strength and capability – as a result of the pandemic, putting them at greater risk of falls and ill-health in later life. Research by Age UK has shown that many previously independent older adults now report finding it harder to do daily activities such as going up stairs or walking the same distances they used to be able to since the start of the pandemic. A previous report by the Centre for Ageing Better and the Physiological Society called for a ‘national resilience programme’ to prevent deconditioning in older adults as a result of lockdown.
Mr Motivator and the Centre for Ageing Better have issued a joint call for broadcasters to do more to keep people active at this age, with regular televised activity slots aimed at over 50s. Older adults watch more TV than any other age group, and these classes would be able to reach those who are less likely to use the internet. Televised classes should be developed in conjunction with exercise scientists to ensure that they are suitable for a range of abilities.
Derrick Evans, also known as Mr Motivator, performed live fitness sessions in the 1990s on GMTV. Now 68, he is calling for broadcasters to do more to support the health and fitness of people his age.
Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better, said:
“These worrying figures show that the pandemic has had a serious impact on people in their 50s and beyond, limiting the amount of physical exercise they have been able to do and causing a knock-on effect on their strength.
“We need to see urgent action taken to reverse this trend, or we risk seeing serious consequences for people’s long-term health in the years ahead. Good muscle strength is crucial to staying healthy and active, and preventing falls as we enter later life.
“Broadcasters have played a vital role in this pandemic and could play a crucial role here too. Televised activity classes, designed with the needs of over 50s in mind, would reach many people in this age group who have struggled to stay active over the past year, particularly those who are less likely to access this kind of content online.”
Derek Evans MBE, also known as Mr Motivator, said:
“The most important thing an older person can have is their health and independence. You cannot underestimate the impact that exercise can have on your mental and physical wellbeing.
“Our older people deserve to have access to regular, safe, effective and fun televised activities. Nobody should be excluded no matter their age or ability.”
Dariel Burdass, Chief Executive of The Physiological Society, said:
“Physical activity is an important factor in staying healthy and resilient and these figures are worrying as they highlight that the pandemic is impacting on the physical health of people in their 50s and over, exacerbating in some ‘deconditioning’ – a loss of physical strength and capability.
“Our proposal for a National COVID-19 Resilience Programme would provide older people with clear, tailored guidance that covers physical activity and nutrition as well as mental wellbeing.”