Older People

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:00 pm on 30th May 2002.

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Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat 2:00 pm, 30th May 2002

To ask the Scottish Executive what action it is taking in order to increase physical activity among older people. (S1O-5266)

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

Older people are encouraged and supported to be physically active through programmes operating at both national and local levels. Across Scotland, NHS boards and local authorities provide wide-ranging opportunities for older people to take part in health-enhancing physical activity, tailored to the specific needs of the individual.

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

Is the minister aware of the view of the physical activity task force that approximately half of all falls among older people are caused by the lack of sufficient activity and balanced exercise? Will he increase that sort of activity for older people, as it brings about major benefits for their health and independence?

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

I welcome Robert Brown's contribution on this issue. The task force will report in June with a series of recommendations. The key issue is how we will address those recommendations. We will need to provide increased activity for the elderly and a variety of activities that includes interesting and powerful pursuits for those who want them.

Photo of John Young John Young Conservative

In view of the fact that people are living much longer—and looking much younger, I may say—I suggest that more vigorous forms of exercise be introduced, such as dancing or things of that nature.

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

John, are you asking?

In terms of musical metaphors, I know that John Young would have preferred the Rufus Thomas hit from the 1960s "Walking the Dog".

A range of activities are being engaged in throughout Scotland. We will await the task force's recommendations, but there is already good practice throughout Scotland. I encourage any member from the Borders who considers themselves to be in the active elderly age range—I name no names and do not identify anyone in particular—to use, for example, the "Guid Fettle" project, which targets individuals over the age of 50 for activity sessions. I recommend that.

Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent

No cheers, thank you, Presiding Officer.

I ask the minister to pay attention to what Robert Brown said about the physical activity task force, which is brimful of ideas, but needs a bit of money. I suggest to the minister that it is not enough to wait until people are elderly to tell them that they must exercise. Some of the budget could be used now to inform companies what they must do to encourage their workers to take exercise where they are working.

I will see you in the gym later, minister.

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

Two offers in the one day is not bad for me. If we had all had physical education teachers as glamorous as Margo MacDonald, perhaps we would have taken more interest in PE. [MEMBERS: "Sook!"] On the serious content of Margo MacDonald's contribution, a range of strategies should be adopted. Someone from a teaching background, such as Margo MacDonald, knows that there are different ways of identifying starting activities for people. I recommend that we take that point on board. I am sure that the task force's recommendations will identify the fact that the issue is not specifically about those who want active sports lifestyles and that there are many ways in which people can have active lifestyles.

During the week, Channel 4 ran a major news piece on the elderly that featured an elderly woman who was involved in karate and judo. I suggest that Margo MacDonald take up those activities.