Domhnall MacAuley is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK
The newspaper story about our research focused on the proportion of older people without sufficient leg strength to stand up unaided from sitting in a chair. At the time, it irritated me. We had just completed a major country wide health and activity survey with superb data on fitness at all ages....and they picked this one component. It was a huge piece of work. Our team had interviewed 1800 adults up to the age of 70 years old, measured VO2max together with ECGs on a treadmill, undertaken various strength tests in a mobile exercise laboratory that we transported to 14 different hospital sites, and taken fasting blood tests in peoples’ homes. My main interest in sport and exercise medicine was in promoting physical activity and - at the time - I thought I was a bit of an exercise guru. It wasn’t the headline I had hoped for and, furthermore, I was teased for weeks by friends and relatives. Everyone wanted to show me how they could all stand up unaided from sitting in their armchairs!
But, with a bit of hindsight, I can now say that perhaps the journalists were right. ...continue reading