Zurich Public event 2-2013

350 Seniors attended the DO-HEALTH public event at the Aula of the University of Zurich on February 12th 2013, despite snow and ice!

The speakers were concerned that snow and ice would prevent seniors to come to the event, but all 350 seats were taken. We thank the participants of the event for their excellent questions and coming to the Aula of the University of Zurich despite challenging weather conditions!

The event was opened by Dr. Daniel Grob (Chief of Acute Geriatic Care at the Waid City Hospital in Zurich). Dr. Grob referred to Winston Churchill who on September 19th 1946 gave his famous speech “Let Europe arise” in this very room at the Aula of the University of Zurich. Today, so Dr. Grob, Churchill would be proud to say “Let DO-HEALTH arise” for the health of seniors in Europe. Churchill’s statement “no sports” as a strategy of healthy ageing, as often cited in the German literature, cannot be confirmed in the English literature. In fact, so Dr. Grob, Churchill was a sportsman throughout his younger age and enjoyed horse riding even at high age.

Prof. Hannes Stählin (Prof. emeritus, Chair of Geriatrics, University of Basel) explaines that a healthy nutrition, rich in protein, vegetables and fruits, is key in muscle health at higher age. He also explained that muscle strength declines with age, although with significant individual variation. Notably, so Prof. Hannes Stähelin, muscle health requires mobility as a pivotal stimulation, and eating a protein rich food after exercising (walking, strengthening exercises,..) is especially valuable. Important risk factors for muscle wasting and weakness are: immobility, vitamin D deficiency, low dietary protein intake, a diet poor in fruit and vegetable intake, chronic inflammation, and stress (high cortisol levels).

Prof. Robert Theiler (Chief, Department of Rheumatology, Triemli City Hospital in Zurich) states that maintaining and improving muscle strength is a central therapeutic target in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis at higher age. The prevention of falls, so Prof. Theiler, is key in the prevention of hip and other fractures at older age. Therefore staying active and avoiding immobility is a pillar of osteoporosis prevention. Simple strategies that can be included in every day life are: taking stairs instead of elevators, walking short distances instead of taking the car, and brushing teeth on one leg (holding on to the wall for safety). Sports activities that were successful in fall reduction are dancing, TaiChi, and strength training (legs and arms). Guidelines recommend to do these activities 3 times per week over 30 minutes that support strength and balance. Prof. Theiler cautions that seniors with acute fractures or frail seniors should start a mobilisation and training program always under professional supervision of a physiotherapist.

Prof. Walter Dick (Prof. emeritus, Chair of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Basel) outlines fracture risk at higher age. At age 50, every second woman and every 5th man, have to expect an osteoporotic fracture in their future years of life. The most frequent and most severe fractures at age 75+ are hip fractures and the primary risk factor for a hip fracture is a fall. Prof. Dick confirms that the recovery after a fracture or joint replacement critically depends on muscle strength before surgery. Thus, keeping mobile every day is critical. Enjoy being active! This can be gardening, walking with a friend, or betting with your grandchild on the steps needed to get to the opera or the soccer field (buy a inexpensive step watch), or dancing. Prof. Dick also recommends supplementation with 800 IU vitamin D per day according to current guidelines. This is important as vitamin D deficiency is very common in seniors and evidence shows that vitamin D supplementation with 800 IU per day can prevent every third fall and hip fracture, as vitamin D has a double benefit on muscle strength and bone density.

Prof. Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari (Director Centre on Aging and Mobility at the University of Zurich and City Hospital Waid) introduces the DO-HEALTH study and invites all seniors age 70+ living in the community to participate in the study  to support health at higher age. See our website.

For a summary in German, please click here — Für eine Zusammenfassung in Deutsch, bitte hier anklicken


Im Vortrag von Herrn Prof. Theiler wird auf den IOF Welt Osteoporose-Tag-Bericht verwiesen: “In Drei Schritten zum starken Knochen — Vitamin D, Kalzium und Bewegung” — Klicken Sie hier, um den Bericht zu lesen.

 For a summary of the presentations in English, please click here


Click here to see the IOF World Osteoporosis Report in English “Three Steps for unbreakable Bones: Vitamin D, Calcium and Exercise”