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Guidelines To Help Older New Zealanders Stay Healthy

Ministry of Health media release January 30, 2013

Guidelines To Help Older New Zealanders Stay Healthy

The Ministry of Health is issuing physical activity guidelines to help New Zealanders aged 65 years and over live longer, healthier, and more independent lives.

The advice for health practitioners is a first in New Zealand, and the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Don Mackie, says it draws on evidence from around the world.

These are some of the key recommendations for older people aged 65 years and over:

•Spend more time being physically active and less time sitting down.

•any activity is better than nothing, and it all adds up.

•Daily activities like walking to the shops, vacuuming, or gardening, all count.

•Aiming for at least 30 minutes of activity, five days a week, that increases breathing and heart rates is ideal – such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or playing with grandchildren

“Ideally, people will be adding in activities that promote flexibility and balance – such as carrying shopping, stretching, and golf,” says Dr Mackie.

He says keeping older New Zealanders healthy is important on several levels.

“People are living longer – and we want to see that those years are spent in good health. Healthy active older people are able to make positive contributions to whanau, communities and wider society for longer.

“Additionally, like health systems around the world, we face significant challenges in responding to an ageing population. We want to help older New Zealanders stay active, independent and to prevent illness, rather than focusing only on treating ill-health.”

Dr Mackie says physical activity, along with good nutrition, is a key contributor to healthy living, and can help in preventing and managing certain chronic conditions.

He says it’s important that people talk to their doctor before starting or increasing physical activity, and the guidelines also include specific recommendations for older people who are frail.

“This is about starting off slowly, and building up to the recommended daily activity levels.”

While the guidelines are aimed at health practitioners, the Ministry will also be producing a simple factsheet and information for the public to access.

The full guidelines can be found here:


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