Physical Activity at the Core of a Public Health Approach

According to Arthritis Research UK, remaining active is one of the best things anyone can do for their musculoskeletal health and at the core of the charity’s new public health approach to musculoskeletal health is physical activity.

The arthritis charity is seeking to transform the conversation about musculoskeletal conditions, shifting the focus from the end stages of musculoskeletal disease, or treatment when it is at its most severe, to a promotion of lifelong healthy bones, muscles and joints.

The guide Musculoskeletal health – a public health approach (PDF 3 MB), presents a new way of thinking about musculoskeletal conditions. Everyone can do something to improve and maintain the health of their bones, joints, muscles and spine, at every age:

  • Increasing physical activity and keeping a healthy weight can markedly reduce the risk of developing a musculoskeletal problem.
  • For those with a musculoskeletal condition, lifestyle changes can substantially reduce the impact of the condition, at every stage of the disease.

Arthritis Research UK is calling for those responsible for health nationally and locally to transform the information, resources, facilities and support people need so they can take steps to improve their musculoskeletal health.

Professor Mark Batt from the University of Nottingham and Fellow of the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine comments: “There are fantastic new physical activity guidelines for children, adults and the elderly that are informed by good data and crucial in an increasingly sedentary society where inactivity and obesity are serious problems. Yet, in the healthcare world, very few of us know about these guidelines and how they improve healthcare practice, so we have great guidelines, but poor dissemination.”

Arthritis Research UK’s Recommendations

  • Local and national population health assessments must include musculoskeletal health (in particular in Joint Strategic Needs Assessments JSNA and Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategies JHWS).
  • Programmes targeting lifestyle factors such as obesity and physical activity should explicitly include impact on musculoskeletal health.
  • Health promotion messages should emphasise the benefits of physical activity to people with musculoskeletal conditions.
  • Public health activity must be underpinned by high-quality data about musculoskeletal health.

Click here to view the CMO physical activity guidelines for children and adults in the UK.

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