Steve’s experience; a short video from One Gloucestershire

12 May 2022

Steve joined KiActiv® Health with a positive attitude and was enthusiastic about finding new ways to be active. He quickly grasped the concept of every-day activity and recognised where he was more sedentary than he had previously thought. This prompted him to start making small changes to his lifestyle such as washing the car himself instead of taking it to the car wash, as well as walking around at work between meetings.

“It has helped me to value the positive effects of increasing daily activities as part of my normal routine…I wouldn’t necessarily have seen the merit in going to the shops before, now I get it.”

At the end of his 12 weeks with KiActiv®, Steve felt that his physical and mental health had improved, and he now felt more confident in managing his health conditions. He wanted to show his appreciation by taking part in this video, and wants to encourage others to make the same changes he has:

Chris’s KiActiv® Story

11 May 2022

Here at KiActiv® we love helping people make positive steps towards achieving their personal health-related goals. Taking control of your own health has never been easier, but don’t just take our word for it! Chris wanted to share her experience of KiActiv® Health and how it has helped her to find the value in her everyday movement, which has benefitted both her physical and mental health.

Chris came to KiActiv® expressing that she wanted to lose weight and had struggled to lose weight in the past. She suffered from chronic pain in her feet which held her back from participating in exercise, but she was keen to change her lifestyle for the better.

Chris quickly grasped the concept of everyday movement, as she had previously thought only vigorous, structured exercise was beneficial. She has two young children and two dogs who keep her busy and was surprised at how much her day-to-day activities were contributing to her overall activity levels. From here, she began to identify where she could add in more activity, even from just “pottering” around the house, cleaning, and gardening.

“It was really good to see that all movement counts, it gave me the confidence to do more… I don’t even have to go to the gym, even just washing the car counts”.

Alongside KiActiv®, Chris decided to make some changes to her diet to help with her weight loss and managed to lose an impressive 22.5 lbs (13% of her body weight!) across the 12 weeks. She found that she was more conscious of her activity levels, and that the more she moved, the easier it was to lose weight and achieve her personal goals. She enjoyed using the tagging and planning features on her online KiActiv® dashboard and commented that both were very useful tools to improve her motivation to change and sustain her new healthy behaviours.

At the midway point of the 12-week programme, Chris felt that her fitness level had improved significantly, and also noticed that she felt a lot more energetic than before. This is when she decided to start incorporating more exercise into her daily routine, as she had hugely improved her confidence around physical activity and exercise, simply by starting out with smaller, more manageable daily activities.

Towards the end of the programme, Chris contracted COVID-19. Despite being stuck indoors, she still managed to stick to her planned daily activities in and around the house. Once she had recovered, and with her new found understanding and confidence regarding her physical activity, Chris decided to take up the Couch to 5K initiative alongside her daughters. She reported that she didn’t get any pain in her feet, which she put down to her weight loss and had also commented on an improvement in her overall mood.

“Since we’ve been chatting you’ve given me the confidence to plan things and exercise.”

“I would never have been able to do this before, I wouldn’t have had the energy… Now I’m like, I can do it… I wouldn’t be where I am today without our sessions”.

By her final session, Chris was able to run for 28 minutes without stopping, which she never imagined she would be able to do. In the past she had found it difficult to find a balance when it came to activity and weight loss, but now she has been able to find that balance. She felt like she had found a new routine that was sustainable, and is hoping to continue her new way of life long into the future

“For the first time in my whole life I feel like I have a good balance… It doesn’t phase me now… you have started me off on something I never thought I would be able to do!”

At the end of 12-weeks Chris provided us with this testimonial:

The KiActiv® Health programme has been absolutely brilliant for me. I was nervous at first, the nerves soon disappeared as soon as I spoke with my consultant. She was incredibly encouraging, she asked all the right questions which helped me to really think about movement in a different way, any movement at all is great and the benefits are there to see: physically on my own health chart, but also in the way I now look and the new confidence that I have gained.

I started off with little movement targets and have gradually built up. I am now regularly planning my exercise into my week and find myself looking forward to it, as my time and when I have finished it, I feel amazing.

I now have no aches, sleep well and have lots more energy.

The programme has worked really well with regular catch ups, this really helps with motivation and encouragement, especially at the beginning when starting out always seems tricky and a lot of thinking is required, for example: looking at the chart “this is where I am, what would I like to achieve?” 

Sophie was like having my own personal trainer and it felt like supportive teamwork. 

I looked forward to my regular calls, planning and updates and will miss them, however I now have the skills to ensure I continue with making sure movement and exercise is part of my life.

Movement has gone from a subconscious guilt, in the back of my mind, to a conscious pride, in what I have achieved so far and in the possibilities of what I will achieve in the future.

I would highly recommend KiActiv®. I have achieved soo much in a relatively short time and feel that everyone could benefit from this program. The mix of being able to see my activity, planning it and the encouragement from my consultant is just the best combination. I feel incredibly lucky to have been on the programme and it has improved so many aspects of my life. Thank you.”

We are committed to establishing everyday physical activity as the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and helping you to recognise that every move you make matters for your health and wellbeing. If you would like to learn more about getting started, to join hundreds of people just like Chris in taking control of their own health, you can register your interest here.

REACT: preventing physical decline in over 65s with mobility issues

21 April 2022

A long-term study into the effectiveness of a community-based group exercise programme has found that the Retirement in Action (REACT) programme can prevent physical decline in older adults (65+) who suffer with mobility issues. Researchers from the Universities of Bath, Birmingham, Exeter and West of England (UWE Bristol) who conducted the study concluded that the programme should be made available to all over 65s with mobility issues in the UK.

What is REACT?

It is a behaviour change intervention targeted at older adults who are beginning to experience problems with mobility, such as joint stiffness, muscle pain and/or weakness and are finding everyday tasks challenging. This was determined by the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB), and those who scored between 4 and 9 were included. REACT aims to prevent further decline in mobility by utilising exercises that target lower limb strength, balance, and stamina, with the focus of the programme being on fun, social interactions and fostering a better sense of community.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – Public Health Research programme, the REACT programme was conducted in Bath, Bristol, Birmingham and Devon over four and half years, and involved a total of 777 participants aged 65 and over. Participants were randomly assigned into either an intervention or a control group. The intervention group attended group-based exercise sessions throughout the REACT programme; twice a week for three months and then once a week for a further nine months. Individuals in the control group attended three ‘healthy ageing’ sessions over the course of a year.

The researchers found that:

  • 12 months after completing the  REACT programme, the participants who had attended group-based exercise sessions had significantly greater mobility than those who did not, suggesting both a short and long-term positive intervention effect.
  • REACT programme participants found it easier to walk climb the stairs, and demonstrated greater independence whilst performing normal everyday activities.
  • A minimum of one strength, balance, and mobility exercise session per week was sufficient to provide meaningful benefits on lower limb physical function.
  • Per person, the cost of delivering the programme was £622, but the health care savings amounted to £725 over the course of two years. This evidence suggests that longer-term cost-savings could be far higher.

Professor Afroditi Stathi, REACT Chief Investigator from the University of Birmingham, commented: “Physical activity carries a wide range of benefits for older people including a longer and healthier life, prolonged independence and autonomy, better mobility and improved wellbeing. Yet, many older people face a downward spiral of declining mobility, whereby the less active they are, the more limited they become.”

“Through REACT we have shown that this steady decline is avoidable. It can be prevented, or in many cases be reversed through an exercise programme that is individually tailored and progressive.”

Dr Max Western of the University of Bath’s Department for Health explained: “The aim of REACT was always to have real impacts on people’s lives. Given these significant results, we are calling on healthcare professionals and policymakers to draw on our findings and implement similar REACT sessions in other parts of the country. Our studies show just how effective REACT can be; we hope many more people will soon be able to benefit from it in the way our participants did.”

The team of researchers now hope that the REACT programme can be rolled out nationwide via community-based activity providers in local areas. 

This study highlights the importance of staying active into later life, and the risks of becoming inactive as we age. Even small changes to your lifestyle to incorporate more movement can help to maintain mobility, independence, and result in a better quality of life as we age. At KiActiv®, we have worked with many older clients to empower them to self-manage their health and improve their personal physical activity in a way which suits their health status, preferences and surroundings. It is never too late to take positive steps towards improving your health, so why not begin your journey to a happier, healthier you today, and get started with KiActiv®.

March news update

5 April 2022

Here at KiActiv®, we are constantly looking towards the latest research to innovate and progress our programmes. Being guided by the literature not only enables us to continue to adapt internally, but also helps us to highlight the ever-evolving benefits of everyday activity, ensuring that you can fully appreciate the positive impact that your increased activity is having on your health!

As a result, we have collated some of the most interesting, cutting-edge research pieces published this month to afford you a wider insight into everything from your general wellbeing and physical health to your cognitive and mental health too.

  • Guidance for Long Term Conditions: New guidance published this month aims to support people with long-term health conditions to be more physically active. The 5Is have been designed to identify what makes a positive physical activity experience for those with long-term health conditions. They stand for: Individualised, Integrated, Influencers, Inclusive and Informed. Using the 5Is can help those with long term health conditions overcome any barriers they might face in regard to physical activity, and allow them to take control of their health. You can read the full guidance here.
  • Diabetes & Dementia: Regular physical activity was found to be independently associated with a decreased risk of all-cause dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular dementia among patients with new-onset type 2 diabetes, according to the results of a study published in Diabetes Care. “These findings suggest that regular physical activity should be encouraged to prevent dementia in high-risk populations and those with recent-onset type 2 diabetes,” the study authors stated. You can read more here.
  • Mental Health: In the first year of the pandemic, global anxiety and depression rates increased by 25%, according to the WHO. Physical activity can support mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as causing beneficial molecular changes. Most importantly, there is no one activity that you must do to gain these benefits, it is all about what the individual finds satisfying and doable. It doesn’t take much to make a big impact. Click here to read the full article.
  • Occupational Activity: An editorial has been published that suggests that occupational physical activity alone is not enough to keep us healthy. High work demands may be the reason many people are reluctant to participate in any kind of physical activity outside of work. However, high work demands are not consistent with the recommendations from international guidelines for adequate intensity, frequency, and volume to gain the positive changes in aerobic capacity, physical strength, and flexibility. Therefore, it is important to remain physically active in your free time too. You can read the full comment here.
  • Physical Activity & Sleep: A week of physical inactivity has the same negative mental impact as a week of broken sleep, a study by sports equipment company Asics has concluded. When active people stopped exercising, they saw decreases in confidence levels by 20%, positivity by 16%, energy levels by 23% and the ability to cope with stress by 22%. These same participants experienced immediate improvements in their state of mind after resuming their regular activity levels. Click here to watch a video about the study.

At KiActiv® we always aim to provide our clients with the best advice based off the latest scientific research. We hope this insight into some recent studies can help you when it comes to physical activity and making choices to improve your health.

We’ve been shortlisted for a 2022 ‘Leading Healthcare’ Award

25 March 2022

‘Keeping Active During COVID-19,’ a COVID response pilot project for Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) across the Wiltshire region has been shortlisted in the Most Promising Pilot Programme category at the Leading Healthcare Awards 2022.

The Leading Healthcare awards celebrate and recognise a series of outstanding teams, partnerships, innovations and programmes across various domains of the health and care sector.

The pilot project, delivered by KiActiv® in collaboration with the West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN) and Wiltshire Health and Care (WHC) aimed to support PR patients who otherwise would have struggled to get the necessary support for their pulmonary condition during the pandemic.

In May 2020, the project was launched as a response to concerns that patients with chronic respiratory conditions could not maintain adequate levels of physical activity in the absence of usual healthcare services as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working in collaboration with the WHC respiratory team, we were able to provide our remote digital service, KiActiv® Health, to patients who needed it most.  Through the delivery of our remote digital service, we were able to promote sustainable self-care and support patients to stay healthy in the comfort of their own homes, despite the unprecedented nature of the situation. The remote nature of the digital service overcame access-related barriers such as the need to travel to a physical location, making it accessible to all. This meant that we were able to engage patients who typically would not take up the offer of traditional PR services, as well as those who were unable to attend traditional in-person services due to the pandemic.

Ultimately, through efficient collaboration with brilliant partner organisations, we were able to demonstrate that KiActiv® Health could be an effective option to support patients with a pulmonary condition to self-care remotely. The independent evaluation by WEAHSN highlights the initial success of the pilot project, and supports the future use and scaling of KiActiv® Health amongst this patient cohort.

The KiActiv® team are very proud to be nominated for this award and this serves as great motivation to continue delivering our services to clients up and down the country. We would like to thank our partner organisations WEAHSN and WHC for all the effort and hard work put in throughout the course of the pilot project, and are looking forward to the virtual awards ceremony on the 7th April.

Here is what one of our clients had to say about their time on the pilot:

“By using KiActiv®, it has helped me come to terms with the limitations I now have, whilst also giving me a structured way to increase my physical abilities on a daily basis. This has helped my mental wellbeing, and made me feel more in control of my health. Looking back through the notes I had made, I see that how I felt about my health has risen from 20/100 at the start of the course to 75/100 at the final session. This is a real testament to the positive impact KiActiv® has had on my life. It is great to know that I can continue to use the programme, and still have the phone support available if I have any questions in the future.”

(Male, 50-years, Lung Cancer).

The Power Of Physical Activity On The Brain

18 March 2022

For many older adults, physical activity is something that is often feared, dreaded or avoided, perhaps as a result of reduced confidence or being concerned about an increased  risk of injury. Physical activity helps you take back control, be more independent and can help you live well for longer. You may feel nervous about increasing your activity levels, especially if you have been inactive for a while, but this is normal. The good news is that any physical activity is better than none at all.

There is a common misconception that for physical activity to be valuable it must be vigorous. According to a new study , keeping your brain active during older age may be as simple as keeping your body active. A study conducted by the University of Georgia, found that older adults who participate in regular physical activity have improved cognitive capabilities as they age, and that keeping active can improve the brain’s performance without requiring strenuous exercise.

Different parts of the brain are active at different times; it is made up of several distinct networks that are continuously communicating. A person’s ability to perform everyday tasks, such as remembering important information and exhibiting self-control, relies on these networks. However, as we age, our ability to perform these tasks effectively can often decrease. This study was the first to examine how these networks interact with physical activity and fitness to impact how the brain functions.

Lead author Marissa Gogniat, a recent doctoral graduate in psychology from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences explains, in a university release . “We’ve always been told it’s good to exercise, but I think this is some evidence that exercise can actually change your brain,” Gogniat says. “And that impacts the way you’re able to function in your daily life.”

The researchers tracked the physical activity and cognitive health of 51 older adults over a period of six months.. Tests were designed to measure each volunteer’s cognitive ability as well as their brain health, and a six-minute walk test was conducted to measure each participant’s fitness.

“This paper is exciting because it gives us some evidence that when people whose brain networks aren’t functioning optimally engage in physical activity, we see improvement in their executive function and their independence,” Gogniat reports. “We’re not saying you need to radically change your life.”

This study shows  small changes to your lifestyle as you age can help keep your brain healthy and keep you as independent as possible. Every move you make can matter, from taking the stairs instead of the escalator, playing with your children and/or grandchildren, to taking the dog for a walk. Movement doesn’t need to be strenuous or hard  to keep both your body and mind healthy.

At KiActiv®, we understand that physical activity is more than just exercise and sport, and that small changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact. Moving away from exercise to personalised, everyday physical activity is essential for your physical and cognitive health, and is more accessible to everyone. This raised awareness and understanding of everyday physical activity is a key factor in increasing motivation to create healthier habits, and help us all age healthily.

The KiActiv® Team

February news update

8 March 2022

In our continuous search for new developments in the field of physical activity research, KiActiv® is always striving to innovate and develop our programs. As we get more and more active, it is important to consider the literature in order to make internal adaptations and to highlight the ever-evolving health benefits of this activity, helping us to fully recognise the impact of increased activity on our health!

In order to help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of your physical and mental wellbeing, we have compiled some of the most interesting, cutting-edge research articles published this month.

  • Brain Function:  While many studies have focused on how high levels of activity may improve brain health in older individuals, less is known about these effects in young to middle-aged adults. This study researched 40 middle-aged adults, found that higher levels of activity and cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with improved brain structure and function. Concluding that physical activity may provide a low-risk, effective method of improving brain health in an early-to-mid-life stage. Click here to read more about the study.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease: Analysis of 649,605 people with an average age of 61 found that those with the greatest fitness levels were 33% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than their less fit counterparts. The author, Dr Edward Zamrini, from Washington VA Medical Centre commented, “One exciting finding of this study is that as people’s fitness improved, their risk of Alzheimer’s disease decreased-it was not an all-or-nothing proposition…”. Read more here.
  • Diabetes: The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released new guidelines on physical activity in individuals with type 2 diabetes, highlighting the importance of every-day physical activity, not just exercise. The updated document puts an emphasis on all kinds of physical activity, and urges people with diabetes to reduce the amount of time they spend being sedentary. You can read the updated guidelines here.
  • Cancer: Currently, little is known concerning the cancer burden as a result of  physical inactivity. This study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine, found by promoting physical activity through broad implementation of interventions could prevent many cancer cases. It is estimated that over 46,000 cancer cases annually in the US could be potentially avoided if people met the recommended 5 hours a week of moderate-intensity physical activity. You can read an overview of the study here.
  • Strength Training: A meta-analysis conducted by the Tohoku University School of Medicine found that muscle-strengthening activities had the potential to decrease the risk of mortality and major non-communicable diseases including CVD, cancer and diabetes. Just 30-90 minutes of resistance training a week is enough to decrease the risk of premature death. To read the full article, click here.

At KiActiv® we always aim to provide our clients with the best advice based off the latest scientific research. We hope this insight into some recent studies can help you when it comes to physical activity and making choices to improve your health.

Twenty minutes of activity a day in your 70s can prevent heart disease in your 80s

21 February 2022

A new study has found that just 20 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous activity in your 70s can half the risk of suffering from heart disease in your 80s. Researchers at the University of Padua and the University of Ferrara, both in Italy, reviewed health data from a sample of 2500 people aged 65 or older, over the course of 20 years, or until they died. They found that, on average, increased physical activity was associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This association between increased physical activity and the reduced risk of CVD is already well established, however, little is known about the impact of increasing physical activity later in life.

The study found that those who undertook 20-40 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity in their early 70s (aged 70-75) saw the greatest benefit and were significantly less likely to develop heart disease. The risk was only marginally lower at the age of 75, and no lower at the age of 80-85, suggesting that improving physical activity earlier into retirement is where you will gain the largest positive impact. These findings reinforce the idea of “better late than never” when it comes to physical activity, but also show the earlier you start, the better.

This does not mean that there is no point to increasing your physical activity in your 80s, as there are countless benefits associated with increasing physical activity later in life. For example, increasing bone density, maintaining a healthy weight and keeping you mentally alert.

While these risk reductions were strongest amongst men, the researchers also emphasised that: “Women doing more physical activity had consistently lower incidence rates of almost all cardiovascular outcomes”. So, for both men and women, being physically active is an effective way to reduce your risk of CVD.

Although moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity may sound daunting, this study pointed to activities such as walking, fishing and bowls as moderate activity, and activities such as gardening, cycling, dancing and swimming as vigorous activity. This means that just by going for a short walk for 20-40 minutes every day, you could be actively reducing your risk of developing heart disease.

In a linked editorial, researchers explained the mechanisms behind how physical activity reduces the risk of CVD. It improves arterial blood flow by reducing the thickness of the blood and reduces the chance of blood clots forming, but most importantly, “the favourable effect of [physical activity] may be simply explained by its capability of slowing down the atherosclerosis process through a better control of blood pressure, blood glucose level, and lipid profile.”

They also added that “movement is medicine, and that even a small amount of [physical activity] may confer beneficial effects in older people, but if undertaken early rather than late.”

Here at KiActiv®, we have worked with many older clients to empower them to self-manage their health and improve their physical activity in a personalised way. Indeed, for many older adults, physical activity is something that is often feared due to lack of confidence and risk of injury, and there is a common misconception that for physical activity to be valuable it must be intense. As such, understanding that physical activity is more than just exercise and sport, and that every move matters, is vital for empowering effective self-management.

So, if you want to make the change to a healthier lifestyle, the more movement you can incorporate into your everyday routine, the more you will be doing to reduce your risk of developing CVD as you get older. It is never too late to start being active, but the sooner you can the better!

The KiActiv® Team

Managing fatigue for cancer survivors

10 February 2022

Feelings of fatigue are very common symptoms experienced by people who are diagnosed with cancer, but each individual experience with fatigue is different. Often, it gets better after treatment ends, yet up to 30% of cancer survivors experience persistent fatigue for years after diagnosis. This can make returning to feeling ‘normal’ seem like an impossible challenge. Despite this, there are ways to help reduce and manage fatigue in a way that is accessible and appealing to everyone.

A new meta-analysis has found that low to moderate physical activity performed at home can reduce fatigue in cancer survivors who have completed their treatment. The analysis included 11 studies and over 1000 cancer survivors, mostly women with a history of breast cancer:

Home-based physical activity interventions that are of low to moderate intensity reduce fatigue in adult cancer survivors immediately after the intervention, and those favourable effects may even persist for prolonged periods thereafter.”

Physical activity has regularly been shown to play an important role in fatigue management, optimisation of energy levels, and improvement in quality of life for cancer survivors and other conditions that are associated with chronic fatigue. However, rather than simply looking to increase activity levels, the focus for anyone experiencing fatigue should be on optimising physical activity. Techniques such as pacing, activity management, sleep management and relaxation are all key to ensure a steady recovery which gives better control over feelings of fatigue.

Home-based physical activity is an option that is accessible to everyone and does not have to be strenuous, with this research showing that even low intensity physical activity can be extremely beneficial. Each and every movement you make is physical activity, so something as simple as moving more throughout the day can make all the difference. This could include everyday activities such as housework, preparing food and gardening; every move matters. With this understanding, the thought of being physically active is far less daunting.

The analysis also noted that, “Physical activity interventions that used frequent counselling were associated with larger improvements in fatigue than those using no or infrequent counselling.” This highlights the need for appropriate support and guidance when it comes to increasing physical activity levels after a cancer diagnosis. It can be difficult to find the optimum level of physical activity when you are impacted by fatigue and having someone to support you through the process can make finding this level more straightforward and decrease the risk of over-exertion.

Every personal experience of cancer treatment and recovery is different, meaning there is no single approach which suits everyone. This is a challenge that we are looking to address and overcome with KiActiv® Health. The personalised nature of the service puts the client in control and enables them to take responsibility over their own health, set appropriate goals, and go about achieving these in a way which suits their personal context and environment.

At KiActiv® we empower you to optimise your physical activity in the context of your fatigue, lifestyle and preferences. We aim to support you in self-managing your physical activity to benefit your health in a way that suits you, using effective techniques such as pacing. This is fundamental to individuals living with fatigue, where everyone’s symptoms are different, and taking your health into your own hands provides you with a management tool that will benefit your health and quality of life, that can be sustained long-term.

The KiActiv® Team

Every move matters, not just sport & exercise

7 February 2022

The KiActiv® Blog is a space in which we like to offer our views on the latest news regarding all things physical activity, exercise and health. Since our first edition almost 7 years ago, we have evaluated, appraised and critiqued a wide array of articles based on what we know is true with respect to the benefits of physical activity for health. That truth being, that all movement matters. So, it is unsurprising to learn that no article has grabbed our attention quite like this one, posted recently by the Daily Mail. The headline reads, “Want to dodge bone, muscle or joint pain in your 60s? Only vigorous exercise such as running, tennis and swimming will spare you, study claims.” This is a dangerous and damaging message, which at best will put people off movement in its entirety, or at worst could lead to significant injury amongst those that vigorous exercise is inappropriate for.

The shocking headline is based on findings by researchers from the University of Portsmouth, who conducted a study to examine the relationship between musculoskeletal pain and physical activity over the course of 10 years. The study sample consisted of 5,802 adults aged 50+ at baseline, with an average age of 62 years. Participants were asked whether they were troubled by bone, joint, or muscle pain at baseline, and were also asked to self-report physical activity status using a questionnaire. Subsequently, participants were grouped into four activity groups: sedentary, low, moderate, or high. Ten years later, the participants reported pain status again. Statistical analysis revealed that engaging in ‘high’ levels of physical activity at baseline was associated with a reduced risk of developing pain complaints at 10-year follow-up, with no protective effect seen for those who were active at a ‘moderate’ or lower level. For clarity, the ‘high’ physical activity group were those who reported ‘heavy manual work or vigorous leisure activity more than once a week,’ whilst the moderate group were those who reported ‘doing physical work; or engaging in moderate leisure-time activity more than once a week; or engaging in vigorous activity once a week to 1–3 times a month.’

Our first problem lies with the nature of physical activity assessment. When used alone, subjective self-report data should be interpreted with great caution as it is subject to significant recall and social desirability biases. Take this for example, if you had been asked to list every single activity you had completed in the past week, including things such as housework, shopping, or washing the car, the chances are you would miss something out. So, self-reported measurements of physical activity tend to lack accuracy. Secondly, data collection points took place 10 years apart, with no measure of physical activity taken during this time, so changes in physical activity during the 10 years were not accounted for in any way, instead allowing researchers to infer causality from a tiny ‘snapshot’ of each individual’s true physical activity habits. Resultingly, broad classification of individuals into mutually exclusive sedentary, low, moderate, or high activity groups based on a loose assessment of physical activity status which took place 10 years ago, has enabled the researchers to form flawed conclusions regarding the impact of physical activity on pain status.

There are countless articles which highlight the positive health outcomes associated with lower intensities of physical activity, and many of our clients at KiActiv® have seen huge benefits to their lifestyle as a result of improving their daily non-sedentary time or their daily moderate activity, rather than taking up running or another vigorous activity. This is particularly true for many of our older users, whom have found both intrinsic joy and tangible health benefits as a result of increasing the level of general everyday movement in their usual routines. So, not only is there plenty of research to validate the physiological importance of each dimension for our health, we know that multidimensional physical activity works in the real-world. When viewed in this way, physical activity is accessible to everyone, with no barriers to age, surroundings, or health conditions, and can help any individual to make positive changes which suit them best.

The fact that the Daily Mail were able to run with such a staggering headline based off the findings from this study is seriously concerning, however we are by no means questioning its accuracy given the dataset the researchers had to work with. This, instead, is a case of us calling attention to the outdated methodology that remains commonplace in physical activity research studies to date. So, this is our call to arms, and a plea for researchers in this field to consider the dangers of reporting such bold claims based on inaccurate and outdated measures of physical activity, which can have a serious detrimental impact on many lives. Fortunately, the advent of wearable devices enables us to objectively capture an individual’s free-living physical activity habits at all intensities with far more precision than self-report data, thus an approach which correctly utilises these tools will improve the accuracy of conclusions in physical activity research and help shift the narrative away from vigorous exercise being the sole option to improve our health.

The KiActiv® Team

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