Official advice inspired by Dr Gladys Pearson’s bone health study
New Government guidelines on the amount and type of physical activity people should be doing has drawn inspiration from research and expertise from Manchester Metropolitan University.
A new report, compiled by UK Chief Medical Officers (CMO), offers updated advice to the public on what they ought to be doing to improve their health, such as sport, types of movement and decreasing sedentary activities.
It cites research by Dr Gladys Pearson, Reader in Human Muscle-Tendon Physiology and Deputy Director Musculoskeletal Science and Sports Medicine Research Centre, into the impact of older people’s physical behaviour and daily activities on their bone health, informing the guidelines for older adults aged 65 years and above.
Dr Pearson said: “‘I feel very privileged for my recent work to have attracted the attention of the working groups responsible for collating the evidence to support the recent Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines.
“As a researcher I tend to toil away, and through Tweets, conference presentations, Facebook posts, even telling my family and friends about my published research findings (usually unsolicited), presenting at public engagement events and to the media, I hope to attract the attention of the relevant end-users and policy makers, but these actions only have a limited reach.
“To be part of the UK’s list of evidence for the CMO Guidelines is a level of impact that few scientists attain. I can only reiterate how thankful I am that my work was deemed pertinent enough to warrant including. This has made my year. My collaborators on this paper, namely my colleagues Dr Christopher Morse and Prof Hans Degens, two of my recently completed PhD students Dr Jorgen Wullems and Dr Declan Ryan, and a recently competed MSc student Mr Conor Doody, assure me that the same goes for them too.”
The research by Dr Pearson and her team, published in the Frontiers in Physiology journal in April, found that older people who keep regularly moving throughout the day are more likely to have better bone health than those who carry out just one bout of high-intensity exercise a day.
They discovered it is better for elderly people to limit their sitting time by getting up to do something as simple as make a cup of tea several times a day – rather than carry out a single short period of intensive weight-bearing activity.
The report by UK Chief Medical Chiefs says that Dr Pearson’s research “supports the benefits of being active throughout the day, such as better maintenance of bone health with higher volumes of light intensity activity spread throughout the day”.
The new guidelines overturn previous recommendations that physical activity needed to last at least 10 minutes to bring benefits. The updated advice means that even a quick sprint up the stairs can contribute to the 150 minutes of moderate to brisk exercise that adults are recommend to undertake every week.
The report says that the study by Dr Pearson provides evidence that the bone mineral density is greater in those who meet these guidelines.