It is estimated that between 2000 and 2030 the OECD’s elderly population (aged 65 and over) will increase by 61.8%, from 13.9% to 22.5% (Bos et al. 1994). This suggests that, in addition to increased spending on pensions, health care and aged services, population ageing is likely to result in a never-ending spiral of increasing debt interest payments.
The burden of chronic disease in Australia threatens to overwhelm the health budget, the capacity of health services and the health workforce.
Chronic diseases are responsible for nine out of every ten deaths in Australia. Four disease groups– cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes–account for three-quarters of all deaths due to chronic diseases.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that at least 80 per cent of all heart disease, stroke and diabetes cases, and 40 per cent of all cancers, are preventable. Physical Activity interventions, including both aerobic and strength training exercise, has been proven to play a major role in prevention and management of all chronic disease.
There is strong evidence to support dose-relationships between physical activity and a range of cardiovascular disease outcomes. Some studies show benefits at levels below previously recommended thresholds, and almost all show progressively decreasing risk with increasing amount of physical activity.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, estimates that around a quarter of all cancer incidence is attributable to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
Physical Activity was associated with a range of outcomes in cancer patients, including increased fitness, muscle strength (from resistance training), quality of life measures, anxiety measures and self-esteem. The effects were greater in people who were overweight or obese. There were also strong effects on quality of life indicators, and nearly half the trials showed an impact on cancer-related fatigue.
Injury and Age-Related Degeneration
Physical activity and muscle strengthening activities have been proven to protect against osteoarthritis, bone mineral density issues, dysfunctional movements, and risk of falls and fractures. Many of these effects are mediated through muscle and bone metabolism, but are also likely to involve neuromuscular mechanisms improved through regular training.
The potential biochemical and physiological mechanisms underlying relationships between physical activity and mental health include: an increase in endorphins; changes associated with an increase in core body temperature; changes in central serotonergic systems; increased availability of neurotransmitters such as norephinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin; enhanced blood flow to brain regions involved in emotional regulation; disruption of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis that regulates endocrine response to stress; and improved sleep.
If we can get more people moving and more people enjoying regular exercise we can play a role in reducing some of theses alarming statistics. The hope is that the Community Moves program can help address these issues and have a positive health impact on it’s participants, reducing their risk of chronic disease.