“People’s understanding of walking more and doing aerobic activity and keeping up the heart rate has grown, but the need for us all to do two sessions of strength and balance exercise a week has been the Cinderella of public health advice,” said Ms Louise Ansari from the Centre for Ageing Better.
So what should you be doing if you aren’t into hardcore gym workouts?
The best forms of exercise, according to the review of evidence, are ball games, racket sports, dance, Nordic walking and resistance training – usually training with weights, but including body-weight exercises which can be performed anywhere.
These exercise both arms and legs, strengthening muscles and helping us keep our balance.
In Nordic walking, for instance, two poles are used. Ms Ansari said the type of exercise required depends on a person’s fitness.
She said: “If you are a reasonably fit adult and you do walking, you should also do yoga or taiji or racket sports or resistance training, which could be in a structured exercise class. You can do two long sessions a week.”
But exercise does not have to be in a gym, she added. “You can also make sure you go up and down stairs a lot instead of taking the lift. That is resistance training.”
“Alongside aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, all adults should be aiming to do strengthening and balancing activities twice per week,” said Dr Alison Tedstone, head of diet, obesity and physical activity at PHE.
“On average, we’re all living longer and this mixture of physical activities will help us stay well in our youth and remain independent as we age.”