The CSP has announced an innovative project with Sport England and the Centre for Ageing Better to find the best ways to promote the benefits of maintaining and improving muscle strength for people visiting their physiotherapist.
The 15-month initiative will explore people’s understanding and perceptions of the importance of regular strength and balance activities, and create messaging and approaches that will help more people meet official activity guidelines.
These guidelines recommend all adults do activities that challenge the muscles at least twice a week.
Despite the importance of strengthening activities, research has revealed very low levels of awareness that strengthening activity is even needed on a weekly basis.
Indeed, only nine per cent of adults surveyed were aware of the requirement, with 34 per cent of the respondents doing fewer than two days per week of muscle strengthening exercises.
Crucially, the initiative will look at the role physiotherapy staff can play in encouraging more uptake of strengthening activities, both directly with patients and in developing and promoting public facing materials, such as strength-based apps or training programmes.
This initiative is made possible through National Lottery funding via a £150,000 grant from Sport England.
Andy Maud, a National Partnerships Lead for Health and Inactivity at Sport England, said:
‘Regular strength, balance and flexibility activities can help to make all movement easier, improving our ability to perform normal daily tasks and enjoy active lives.
‘We’re excited by the potential of this partnership to develop and test new creative ways of communicating the importance of strength for physical function.
‘It forms an important part of our longer-term drive to start changing how we talk about getting active, in a way that inspires people to make sport and physical activity a practical choice for them.’
The project comprises two key phases: insight and creative. The insight phase will feature focus groups, surveys and desk-based research. The creative stage will see the testing of a range of messaging concepts to encourage people to do more strengthening activities each week.
CSP staff will manage the project, reporting to an advisory board made up of key stakeholders including physio and patient representatives. Input from professional networks and the consultants’ group will also be gained as the project progresses.
Sara Hazzard, CSP assistant director of strategic communications, welcomed the new partnership.
‘We are delighted to be working with such high-profile partners and feel this reflects a recognition of the critical role physiotherapy staff play in supporting people with a range of conditions.’ she said.
‘This work has the potential to deliver a greater understanding of people’s fears and motivations when it comes to strengthening and find ways to help them lead independent, active lives.’
Jess Kuehne, Senior Programme Manager (Healthy Ageing) at the Centre for Ageing Better, said:
‘Physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals can play a huge role in supporting people to strengthen their muscles and improve their balance. This is a great initiative which we’re very glad to support.
‘Many of us don’t realise the huge difference that improving our strength and balance can have to our wellbeing, especially as we age, and very few of us meet the recommended weekly guidelines for muscle strengthening exercise.
‘We need to do much more to make sure physiotherapists understand how they can help individuals meet the guidelines and communicate their importance to people across the country.
Watch Sara Hazzard discussing the new initiative.
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