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Exercise, is it the fountain of youth?

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By Brian Foley from Activate Fitness

The past two weeks we’ve looked at the benefits of exercise on common conditions as we age such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

In this concluding article we are going to look at the overall improvements to lifestyle and well-being right throughout our adult life as a result of exercise.

Why is this important? If you are in your 20s or 30s reading this, should you even care? Simply put, one day you will care. Right now you probably have relations who need to know this right away.

Over the last one hundred years the average life expectancy at birth in Ireland has risen by several decades.

Life expectancy at birth is 80.4 years for men and 84.0 for women, but really, is it the years or the quality of the years that matter most?

Increased longevity is not the only important measure for ageing, as the number of those extra years spent in good health is crucial to both quality of life and service provision.

As we get older we lose about 1% of our muscle mass every year from around 40 years of age. The decline in muscle strength and balance happens three times quicker if we do not do regular activity.

Older people who have been in hospital may have spent a lot of their time in bed or sitting in a chair. This can lead to loss of muscle mass and strength which makes moving about and doing daily activities independently more difficult once they are discharged. This can result in people being unable to go back to their home or needing extra care assistance. The greater the loss of muscle mass the more susceptible a person becomes to chronic illness.

Not only can exercise limit the effects of physical deterioration, studies have also concluded it can act as a buffer against some cognitive impairments such as dementia with six to 12 months of exercise improving brain function scores.

So, what do the guidelines tell us?

Ideally, exercise prescription for older adults should include both aerobic exercise and muscle strengthening exercises.

Aerobic exercise (walking, cycling, swimming, jogging etc) serves to improve our cardiovascular system. Cardiovascular disease is a major contributor to mortality rates in all age groups. Lack of exercise tends to exacerbate the negative effects of these risk factors while implementing exercise in daily routine has been shown to reduce mortality rates.

Strength training has many benefits for the older population which we have touched on over the past two weeks, but other than the benefits to bone density and muscle mass, strength training has also been proven to improve functional abilities. Things we may take for granted now like getting up and down to the toilet, bathing and even getting up to make a cup of tea can become an ordeal or impossible for someone who becomes frail in their older years. This does not have to be the case. We have prevention tools available to use to continue to live independently on our own terms.

How much of these should we do according to the guidelines?

Adults and older adults (>65) should do at least 150–300 min of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75–150 min of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week for substantial health benefits;
Adults and older adults (>65) should also do muscle-strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups on two or more days a week, as these provide additional health benefits.
Older adults, as part of their weekly physical activity, should do varied multicomponent physical activity that emphasises functional balance and strength training at moderate or greater intensity on three or more days a week, to enhance functional capacity and to prevent falls.

These strength training sessions should be completed two to three days per week, with a rest day between each workout.

Activate runs a twice weekly strength programme which is devised and coached by Sam Treharne (CORU registered physiotherapist) which might be suitable for you or someone you know. To find out more visit www.activate.ie/free-intro or call 087 4030894.

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Killarney Triathlon Club’s open water swim on the lake

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On Tuesday evening last, members of the Killarney Triathlon Club took part in a breathtaking open water swim, starting from Dundag Beach and spanning the middle lake to a nearby island. Covering a distance of approximately 1.5 kilometers, the event saw all participants return safely, basking in a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.

Set against the stunning backdrop of Killarney National Park, swimmers enjoyed views of woodlands,  mountains, and Muckross House. Safety was paramount during the swim, as it is in all the club’s events. Essential precautions included the use of tow floats, safety kayakers, and safety boats, ensuring the well-being of all participants.

“Our club is incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such a beautiful environment,” said Caitriona Shanahan, PRO of Killarney Triathlon Club. “The views during our swims are truly spectacular, and the safety measures we implement help everyone feel secure and enjoy the experience.”

Killarney Triathlon Club offers numerous benefits to athletes of all levels. These include structured training programs, expert coaching, group workouts and more. 

“We welcome all levels and abilities. Joining our club not only improves physical fitness but also offers great fun and the added benefits of stress relief from sea swimming. There truly is nothing like the calming effect of a group swim in the sea.” Caitriona added.

For those interested in joining the Killarney Triathlon Club, more information can be found on their social media platforms and their website, Killarneytri.com.

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Danny Healy-Rae welcomes decision to push back changes for cataract payments

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The Health Service Executive has deferred a move to cut the price it reimburses people for cataract treatments in the European Union and in Northern Ireland, under its overseas treatment schemes and a separate system for the North.

The prices were due to change from the start of this month, but the HSE has pushed the date back so that no one is disadvantaged, and to fully communicate with patients, treatment consultants and providers, cost changes will not come into effect until September 1.

The payments for less complex eye treatments were due to fall from €1,912 to €863 or the National Health Service equivalent of £766 in Northern Ireland. The most common cataract procedure payments were due to reduce from €1,456 to €1,171.

The HSE said that the vast majority of procedures fall into this new payment price. It said that the more complex glaucoma/cataract treatment payments will rise from €1,912 to €4,206.

Danny Healy Rae welcomed the news saying, “Following my representations and raising of this matter in the Dáil, I am glad that the HSE have agreed that they will continue to reimburse the higher rates for cataract procedure for those carried out up to the end of August 2024.

“I am advising anyone who needs to have their cataracts removed to do so now before the change to reimbursement amounts comes in.”

All cataract treatment carried out in Belfast after the 1st September 2024 will be subject to the new DRG rates.

Honouring the Kerry women of the revolutionary period

Kerry County Council is to invite expressions of interest next week for the commissioning and development of a commemorative and artistic piece which will honour the role played by women in Kerry during the revolutionary period between 1912 and 1923.

The project follows a joint motion by the five female members of Kerry County Council who called for the development and commissioning of a meaningful and lasting commemorative piece which would reflect the significant and diverse roles and activities of women and their involvement in the campaign for Irish Independence at the beginning of the twentieth century.

A Working Group, including the five female councillors, has been developing a design brief, and the Council intends to publish a detailed brief for the memorial next week and expressions of interest will be invited.

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