The “miracle treatment” that could significantly lessen the strain on Scotland’s ailing NHS is exercise and healthy living. The demand for hospitals and GP offices is at an all-time high due to the rising number of elderly people and the Scottish lifestyle’s prevalence of obesity, alcohol, drug, and smoking addiction.
Experts also concur that maintaining the NHS in its current form will require a healthier lifestyle as the population ages. The Glasgow Caledonian University’s Dawn Skelton, a professor of ageing and health, is one of those attempting to promote healthier behaviours among patients.
Physical exercise lowers our risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and stroke. It lessens disease symptoms. It is a miraculous remedy, but it cannot be taken as a pill.
According to a World Health Organization report from the previous year, if everyone’s activity levels rose by just a few percent, billions of pounds could be saved annually on medical services all over the world. And exercise physiologist Professor Skelton wholeheartedly concurs.
She observes a lot of elderly patients who become chronically ill after easy falls and thinks a few easy exercises could significantly lower hospitalisation. There are many reasons why people might trip and fall, but one of the most important is that as we age, all of our reserves—our vision, hearing, balance, and other senses that help us keep our balance—begin to deteriorate.
“However, some of us hit the decline a little bit earlier, perhaps as a result of sedentary lifestyles, medical conditions, or medication. If you could, however, improve someone’s strength and balance so that they can correct that trip and stay upright, that would make a significant difference in whether someone actually fell and broke something.
“Falls are massive, and right now we can see it highlighted with the pressures that are happening with people being unable to be discharged,” Skelton continued. Frailer, older people who have gone in sometimes because of a fall but sometimes because they fall in the hospital, occupy about 75% of all hospital beds.
They eventually require rehab, a care package to support them when they first return home, or they must enter a care facility because they become frail and unsafe for themselves due to frequent falls.
However, she asserted that exercise can help people feel stronger and more stable, which encourages them to move more freely and become more active. People can fall at any age, according to Skelton, so they won’t necessarily stop falling. However, if we can help them return to a point where they no longer worry about falling and just carry on with their lives, that would be a huge win for them and their families.
According to her, a third of all admissions to nursing homes are caused by instability and falls. She continued, “Falls are preventable, so it’s a big problem. Simply put, people must put in more effort. It is difficult to fix. The four home nations’ chief medical officers created activity guidelines in 2018.
According to Skelton, “they came up with 150 minutes of exercise a week to lessen the risk of heart disease, cancer, depression, and diabetes by being overweight. Ideally, this should result in a slight increase in body temperature or shortness of breath. It is more than just a stroll; it makes us huff and puff a little.
“Splitting it up is preferable to doing it all in two and a half hours on a Saturday and nothing else the rest of the week. At least twice a week, we should engage in an activity that tests our balance and causes our muscles to warm up or tense. That might involve going to the gym and lifting weights, but it might also involve performing repeated sit-to-stands.
“I am concerned about the upcoming generations. Are there going to be more falls as a result of their lack of strength and balance reserves? The nation currently has “a pandemic of rehabilitation needs,” she claimed.
“Following on from Covid, we have such frailty,” Skelton continued. We must encourage everyone who has felt less capable recently to move more. Exercise can lessen symptoms and your likelihood of developing an ailment in the future. Except for neurological conditions like motor neurone disease, almost no disease or condition is impacted by exercise or lack thereof.
“Things like depression, loneliness, and social isolation are strongly correlated with lack of activity, as well as things like heart disease, any cancer, diabetes, metabolic disease, and arthritis.”