A passion for healthy ageing

For Dr Cathie Sherrington, Abraham Lincoln said it all - in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. At least one third of people aged 65 and older fall at least once per year. As someone who enjoys the company of older people and is passionate about exercise, Cathie believes for an ageing population, physical activity is the key.

“Physical activity is crucial for maintaining mobility as we get older. Unfortunately as we age, we aren’t as good at exercise as we might like, and this is why older people start to lead sedentary lifestyles - but exercise can counter age-related changes in physical ability and prevent falls.”

“The bigger public health message is really about exercise. We have a long way to go to get older Australians moving more. We tend to have the idea that we rest more as we age. Europe sets a great example, particularly the Netherlands, where exercise programs suitable for less mobile people are freely available.”

With over ten years experience in physiotherapy, Cathie completed her Masters of Public Health and PhD at the University of New South Wales.  She then moved into a research role at the University of Sydney. Cathie was recently awarded a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellowship, and is currently part of the musculoskeletal team at The George Institute. “The team is all motivated to produce high-quality research to improve health. It sounds corny, but it’s true!”

Cathie is currently leading two studies in falls prevention in Australia funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Her research is focused on improving physical abilities and preventing falls in people who are at risk of falls or have a disability; one in people who have recently been in hospital and the other among people who have suffered a fracture from a fall.

In the future, Cathie and her team plan to develop similar research programs in India, China and Brazil specifically investigating falls and hip fracture. For now, Cathie balances a busy work and family schedule.