Aging and Exercise
—scientific facts and common myths
1) The physical decline of older age.
About half the physical decline associated with the aging of your body is most likely due to your lack of physical activity. Without regular exercise, people over the age of 45 most frequently experience a range of health problems including:
- Reduced muscle mass with accompanying decrease in strength and physical endurance
- Reduced coordination and balance
- Reduced joint flexibility and mobility
- Reduced cardiovascular and respiratory function
- Reduced bone strength
- Increased body fat levels
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased susceptibility to mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression
- Increased risk of various diseases including cardiovascular disease and stroke
2) Barriers to exercise – common myths.
Many older people incorrectly believe that exercise is no longer appropriate. Some of the common misconceptions that prompt older people to abandon physical activity include:
Older people are frail and physically weak.
- The human body doesn’t need as much physical activity as it ages.
- Exercising is hazardous for older people because they may injure themselves.
- Only vigorous and sustained exercise is of any use.
3) Barriers to exercise – socioeconomic factors.
Some of these are:
- Some people may have a preference for sedentary activities such as reading and socializing.
- The relatively high cost and long time commitment of gyms makes them unattractive.
- Many sports and activities tend to attract young adults, so older people may feel unwelcome.
- The physical fitness marketplace has failed to include and attract older people.
- There is just not enough time in a day to exercise.
Fortunately, various important studies have shown that it is never too late to get fit. The human body responds to exercise, no matter what its age, and there are many health benefits. As the body ages, there is a loss of mean muscle mass that leads to decreased flexibility, decreased strength, loss of balance and decrease in bone mass. All of this can lead to injury and subsequent loss in the quality of life that we should be enjoying.
Well-designed and appropriately controlled exercise can reverse the negative impact that the passage of time has on your body.
How exercise benefits you if you are 45 years old or over
The benefits of exercise to the body 45 years old and over include:
The amount and size of muscle fibres decreases with age. Some studies suggest that the average body loses around 3 kg. of lean muscle every decade from middle age onwards. The muscle fibres that seem to be most affected are those which govern strength and speedy contraction. There is evidence to suggest that these changes are related to a sedentary lifestyle, rather than age.Muscle mass can increase in the older person after regularly exercising for a relatively short period of time.
Bone density begins to decline after the age of 40, but this loss accelerates around the age of 50. As a result of this bone loss, older people are more prone to bone fractures. Estimates suggest that one in four women over the age of 80 years will fracture their hip. Exercise at an earlier stage reduces the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis.Weight-bearing exercises, in particular, help to keep bones healthy and strong.
Heart and lungs
Moderate intensity exercises are most favourable. Studies show that cardio-respiratory fitness takes longer to achieve in an older person than in a younger person, but the physical benefits are similar. Regardless of age, people are able to improve their cardiorespiratory fitness through regular exercise. Remember that the heart is the most important muscle in your body.
The joints of the body require regular movement to remain supple and healthy. In particular, people with arthritis can benefit from aerobic and strengthening exercise programs.
Body fat levels
Carrying too much body fat has been associated with a range of diseases including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Regular exercise burns fat, increases muscle mass and speeds the metabolism. Together, these physiological changes help an older person maintain an appropriate weight for their height and build.
What should you do?
Our Prime Time Fit program will help you determine the best way for you to look after your body with a reasonable investment of your time.
Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic conceptualized, researched and designed the Prime Time Fit program to help people aged 45 or older to keep their physical prime for as long as possible through simple, convenient and effective exercises. Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic is the only clinic in Southwestern Ontario that offers this kind of program.
Specifically, a specialized therapist will work with you to review your medical history, any past injuries and physical goals in order to develop a program to improve not only your physical strength, flexibility and functionality, but also to prevent future injuries and to help you maximize the life you lead. This highly qualified therapist understands injury and its prevention and will develop a personalized exercise program for you to do at home, with a trainer or in a gym, whichever you prefer.
Prime Time Fit program —
how to join.
It is very simple. Just contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic at 905-849-4576
Ask the receptionist to book you for your initial assessment and program development. We are confident that you will like the program and benefit extensively from it and that that you will consider the decision to join the program one of the best health decisions that you have ever made in your life.