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Scientists call for exercise to help elderly avoid dangerous falls

25 June 2007

Falls lead to the deaths of an estimated 1,000 elderly people every year and cost the NHS around £1.7bn. This week scientists are taking their research direct to the public and encouraging older people to take more exercise to prevent dangerous falls as part of Help the Aged's National Falls Awareness Day on 26 June.

Dr Gladys Pearson, a cell biologist funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), will explain to participants in a practical workshop, held in North London, how a little gentle exercise each day can slow down muscle ageing and help prevent falls.

"Falls can be hugely damaging to self-confidence and also cause serious injury", explains Dr Pearson, a researcher at Manchester Metropolitan University.

"My research has found that even gentle exercise can have huge results on stability and strength, greatly reducing the risk of falls.

"The NHS report that falls cause the most deaths and long-term health problems amongst the elderly and estimate that around 1000 older people die every year from a fall on the stairs. Our research has shown that with just gentle exercise an active 80 year old can have the muscle structure of a sedentary 20 year old. It is actually possible to turn back the ageing clock for your muscles.

"This workshop, and other National Falls Awareness Day events, will serve to not only reduce these worrying figures but also help individuals maintain their independence."

Health and fitness experts from Camden Council will help lead the workshop with practical exercise tips for older people.

"It is always best to start easy and progress gradually", explains Marc Malone, a fitness advisor from Camden Active Health Team. "It's important not to over-do it, but as little as a light stroll to the shops or some gentle chair-exercises can help our muscles stay strong as we age."

The workshop, entitled A Walk a Day Keeps a Fall at Bay, is organised by SPARC (Strategic Promotion of Ageing Research Capacity) and Camden Active Health Team. SPARC is a research network funded by BBSRC and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which communicates the latest scientific developments in ageing research to the public, practitioners and policy-makers.

The event will highlight some of the BBSRC-funded work that is improving and extending the quality of life for older people.

The BBSRC exhibits, Muscle Mania! and Interactive Tendon, will also be on display to further explain the science behind the advice.


Notes to editors

The workshop will be held at the Camden Centre, Bidborough Street, London, and runs from 10am until 4pm.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.


SPARC brings together researchers, practitioners and policy makers in ageing. It specialises in communicating the latest design, engineering and biological ageing-related research to all stakeholders, making the case about the benefits for an ageing population of scientific research, and encourages new blood into ageing research.

External contact

Matt Cornish, Camden Council Press Office

tel: 020 7974 6022


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382