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Exercise and Rehabilitation

The World Health Organisation has spent much time looking into the need for exercise and rehabilitation. Over 1 billion people live with a form of disability and recent evidence shows that 2.41 billion live with conditions that impact their activities of daily living.

In 2017, the WHO launched the Rehabilitation 2030 initiative, which emphasizes the need for health systems to promote global delivery of rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation enables people to achieve and maintain their optimal physical, mental and social functioning in their daily lives. If started in a timely manner following illness or injury, rehabilitation can help speed recovery.

An illustrated older woman in a purple jumper playing the drums.
You can download this handy booklet at the end of this article

Anybody at any point might need rehabilitation to enable them to move, interact, be independent and communicate. Rehabilitation is about health and functioning in everyday life. It is needed to ensure people get the best outcome after injury or illness or deal with the restrictions that older age can bring.

What can rehabilitation help with?

Rehabilitation can reduce the impact of a broad range of health conditions, illness or injury. It can also complement other health interventions, such as medical or surgical interventions, to help achieve the best outcome possible. Rehabilitation can help to reduce, manage, or prevent complications associated with many health conditions such as a stroke or a fracture.

Physical fitness and rehabilitation is especially important in older age. Regular appropriate exercise has been shown to not only improve a person’s functional abilities, but also their psychological well being. Without exercise, everyday tasks such as walking, getting up from your favourite chair or the toilet can become increasingly difficult. Inactivity and ageing muscles can also impact on an individual’s balance, postural stability and risk of falls.

People are now living longer, and the number of people over 60 years of age is predicted to double by 2050. Unfortunately, in the UK, 4 out of 10 adults over the age of 50 are completely inactive and two thirds of these believe they are doing enough to keep fit and well. More people are living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke and cancer. These health conditions can impact an individual’s functioning and are linked to increased levels of disability, for which rehabilitation can be beneficial.

Physiotherapy as a form of rehabilitation can:

· Increase strength, balance and coordination

· Improve function

· Increase confidence

· Reduce the risk of falls

· Reduce the risk of sustaining fractures

· Improve quality of life

How can physiotherapy programmes help?

Well-designed physiotherapy rehabilitation programmes involving strength, balance and functional exercises can help reduce falls at home and strengthen muscles at any age. Approximately 30% of muscle strength is lost between the ages of 50 and 70. Rehabilitation and regular movement is therefore essential in not only supporting people with complex health problems but also engaging them in an individualised programme adapted to their specific needs and goals.

Ultimately, physical activity is essential for healthy ageing. It’s never too late to start being active and strong.

Click below to download your FREE guide from The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy for advice on maintaining strength and fitness as you age.

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