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The Great Exercise Age Divide

Sammy Margo scaled

At school, forgetting your gym kit or faking a sick note were the best ways to avoid P.E. but it seems that many of us, especially those of us ageing are still dodging all forms of exercise as we live through the  COVID pandemic – despite a new Government £2bn package aimed at incentivizing walking and cycling.

In a new survey commissioned by Mentholatum’s MIND YOUR BACK campaign –, a third of people aged over 60 usually take no exercise at all compared with 14 percent of 16-29-year olds.

While more than six in ten people under 45 years were spurred to start up a new exercise routine during the lockdown, especially walking, running, and cycling, this applied to fewer than three in ten over 60s.

Even older folk who took some exercise tended to do it for short bursts of half an hour or less compared with the 6 in ten younger people who pounded the streets for at least an hour.

Despite this gentle approach to fitness, nearly half of over 60s said exercising didn’t make them feel any better, especially men.

In contrast, 74 percent of 30-44-year olds and 67 percent of 45-60-year olds felt better after taking exercise citing improved energy levels, better mood, and greater strength.

The good feelings were despite four times more amongst younger people saying that they’d pulled a muscle during exercise compared with the over 60s group. In fact, overall, younger people were more likely to experience exercise-related aches, pains, and strains than the older generation and this put 40 percent off exercise.

Sammy Margo, physiotherapist says: “As people are now living longer than ever, it’s vital to keep exercising – even if it’s a daily walk, gentle yoga class or chair exercises.

Spending lots of time sitting or standing without mobilizing muscles and joints is a recipe for back pain and muscle stiffness which could lead to falls later in life.

“The MIND YOUR BACK research – – shows that lockdown made us all more conscious of the benefits of regular exercise, but the younger generation did much better at putting this into practice. However, as they exercised more, they experienced more injuries – something that could be prevented by focusing on posture and range of movement. 

The MIND YOUR BACK campaign offers a series of tips on which provides  evidence-based strategies to help prevent and manage back pain, for people of all ages.”

Mentholatum — makers of a range of evidence-backed topical muscle and joint products – has created the 5 S.T.E.P.S programme to help prevent and manage back pain thus getting Brits moving more like the Government’s latest activity campaign as well as helping to keep our backs healthy and mobile. 

Here’s a fast summary to the MIND YOUR BACK five simple S.T.E.P.S.

  • STRETCH – Gentle stretching, even for a few minutes a day, increases mobility and helps loosen tight muscles. Check out 5 stretches at 
  • THERAPY – hot, cold or anti-inflammatory topical therapies, such as Deep Heat, Deep Freeze and Deep Relief. These help to manage pain, improve blood flow to injured tissues, and kick-start the healing process. A clinical trial in patients with acute lower back pain found that a combination of thermotherapy (warmth) and cryotherapy (cold) provides effective relief from low back pain without the side-effects associated with pharmaceutical treatments.
  • EXERCISE – walking, cycling, and swimming are all gentle, low impact exercises that fit with the new Government £2bn package aimed at incentivising walking and cycling.
  • Why not set a medium-term target, such as completing a 5K run, 10K bike ride, or 20 laps of the pool, to keep you focused?
  • POSTURE – check your posture, especially at work or while watching TV, to ease non-specific lower back pain and enhance healing
  • STRENGTHEN – in order to help prevent future back pain, you need to strengthen certain muscles. See five strengthening exercises that will help  at: