A consensus statement is where a group of renowned medical/health professionals meet to reach agreements on particular topics surrounding healthcare, taking into account the most recent evidence and data.

In late 2018, 26 researchers from 9 different countries banded together to reach consensus on a very important topic: the effects of Physical activity on ageing. They summarised their findings into 4 main topics.

1. Functional Capacity and Health

  • Physically active adults show greater benefits in physical and cognitive function, mobility, musculoskeletal pain, risk of falls, and quality of life.
  • Physically active adults have a number of improved physiological systems, including metabolic, skeletal, cardiovascular and immune systems.

2. Brain health and cognitive function

  • Age-related cognitive decline and neurodegeneration (conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) has been proven to be slowed or delayed in physically active adults.
  • From studies of adults participating in 3 hours of physical activity a week, there is evidence for improvements in brain structure and function, cognition, perceptual and motor skills.

3. Behavioural change, intentions and habits.

  • Self-efficacy, motivation, and development of positive habits are all associated with increased physical activity in the ageing population.

4. Sociological perspectives

  • Social structures influence the participation of older adults in physical activities. A safe, social and cultural-friendly environment has a significant influence on participation.
  • When physical activities are meaningful to them, older adults are more likely to continue to participate in the future.

From this consensus it can be deduced that in order to stay healthy in older age, it is important to stay consistently physically active, participating in up to 3 hours of exercise a week for a multitude of health benefits. It is important to develop good participation habits, which is more easily achieved in a social, culturally inclusive environment.

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Copenhagen Consensus Statement 2019 - Physical Activity and Ageing

From 19th to 22nd November 2018, 26 researchers representing nine countries and a variety of academic disciplines met in Snekkersten, Denmark, to reach evidence-based consensus about physical activity and older adults. It was recognised that the term ‘older adults’ represents a highly heterogeneous population. It encompasses those that remain highly active and healthy throughout the life-course with a high intrinsic capacity to the very old and frail with low intrinsic capacity. 

Article source: British Journal of Sports Medicine


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