Getting Older, Getting Stronger
Why you should never quit exercising no matter how old you are
Aging affects the function of all body systems. Referencing Dr. Bortz ‘We Live Too Short and Die Too Long’: “Almost everything we have been taught about aging is wrong. We now know that a very fit body of 70 can be the same as a moderately fit body of 30”. We are now entering an exciting time, when medical doctors, exercise physiologists and gerontologists are all reediting what aging is. No longer should we expect to get sick, get heart disease, get Alzheimer’s disease or any of the other maladies commonly associated with the passage of time.
Think of an 80-year-old person and what comes to mind? Most of us, when we think of “aging,” imagine becoming more and more disabled. This concept of aging is not what is programmed into our bodies, but rather what has been projected by society. With exercise and proper care, people can and are living longer and more active lives. The next years of scientific breakthroughs will lead breathtaking increases in human longevity. The sunset years are beginning to see the light of a new day.
The stigma of slow decline associated with aging is no longer an issue for those who show interest in fitness and health. In fact, athletically and nutritionally fit individuals can measure out 10 to 20 years biologically younger than their chronological age. For decades we have accepted frail non-energetic people among the older segment as the norm. Wrinkled skin, stooped shoulders and halting steps have been expected characteristics with each year we grow older. Those expectations are beginning to shift. Those professionals involved in exercise programming for older adults strongly believe that stooped shoulders, halting steps and other so-called age related conditions could be prevented or even corrected with proper exercise.
Studies done on older athletes have found that their metabolisms do not slow down as much as first thought, nor does their muscle mass decrease as much. Scientists are proving in study after study that when such deterioration does occur, it is not the result of old age, but again, disuse. Increasing research supports the claim that chronological age is no big deal. We now have evidence that a fountain of youth does exist in the form of your local fitness center, pool and exercise class.
Until a few years ago, most medical authorities would not have recommended that any of their elderly patients be put on a strength training program. However, with current research showing the ability to increase in muscle strength in people over 80 years old, some other findings showing an increase in bone density with strength training, increases in leg strength in patients over 90 years old, reductions in cardiovascular risk factors, and a maintenance of strength, there is no excuse to keep moving no matter how old you are.
Orthopedic Corner | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201 Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119