Summary of Thursday Welcome Addresses and Keynotes

Dr. Andy Murray, Scottish Gov Physical Activity Champion and Sir Harry Burns, CMO for Scotland (Tues Welcome), both highlighted the importance of increasing PA in Scotland.  A modifiable health risk, low cardio-respiratory fitness is the biggest attributable factor in all causes of death, more than smoking and obesity combined (Blair, Physical Inactivity, BMJ, 2009).

It is so important for health professionals to promote increase in physical activity and the reduction in sedentary behaviour.  In patient assessment, questions on alcohol, weight or smoking are asked routinely, but how often are patient questioned about physical activity or how often they spend sitting? Dr Murray revealed that only about 13% of GP, are familiar with PA activity guidelines, compare this to 97% being familiar with the guidelines for alcohol intake.

Dr Charles Euster, an energetic, inspirational 93 year old revealed his secret to super success in ageing.  He told us vanity was pretty important, willingness to work very hard and not to expect things to happen overnight, it took him 3 years initially.  In his experience he feels the 3 most important components to successful ageing are:

  1. Work or to have a real passion for something
  2. Diet
  3. Exercise

Dr Stephanie Studenski, highlighted the importance of the benefits of exercise to the nervous system and the nervous systems ability to adapt due to its neuroplastic properties, even in old age.   Motor skills and motor learning are so important to be a focus in exercise programmes.  The attention required for Tai Chi, Yoga and mindfulness based practice along with the feedback gained from the instructor is a great way of gaining motor skills and learning.

Dr Studenski went on to present the findings of a study that she conducted using computer gaming in over-weight, post menopausal women.  Specifically, they used a dance game (dance dance revolution), where there is a cognitive demand to interpreting the on screen instructions, then reacting to them.  The participants gain feedback from the sensors on the dance mat, learning occurs through repetition of movements, along with reward and motivation are given.

Keeping with the technology theme, Dr Stuart Smith demonstrated the potential of use of computer technology for health benefits in older adults.  He says he is trying “to bring the health geeks and the computer geeks together” Lots of very creative technology is then produced as a result.  They have managed to adapt games, such as Dance Dance Revolution and Fruit Ninjas, to be used in older adults and clinical populations.  Fun, Fun, Fun!  They are also working on home based health surveillance to support self-management and independent living and reducing social isolation via gaming.

The session ended with Dawn Skelton and Jannique Van Uffelen announcing the venue for WCAA 2016, will be Melbourne, Austrailia! See you there!