Exercise and Aging
Tips to Be Fit By Vince Faust
In the past few years many researchers have turned their attention to the question: Is muscle and strength loss a function of aging or is it a result of disuse? Recent studies show that “if you don’t use it you will lose it”.
Getting older does not mean that you have to become weak and suffer from age related changes that affect older people who are sedentary. Several studies show that resistance-training exercises help maintain and increase muscle strength and size as we age. When muscle biopsies of men over 50 who lifted weights were compared with those of 20-year-old men the biopsies looked the same. When biopsies of men over 50 who did not exercise were compared with those of the same 20-year-old men their biopsies showed typical age-related changes.
Exercise has been proven to help you stay healthy, energetic and independent as you get older. The University of Birmingham did a study that looked at what happen when older people who have exercised all of their lives were compared to a group of similarly aged adults and younger adults who did not exercise regularly. Their results showed that older people who had exercised regularly defied the aging process, had the immunity, muscle mass, and cholesterol levels of a young person.
An organ called the thymus that makes immune cells called T cells will start to shrink from the age of 20 and makes less T cells. The study showed that older people who exercise had thymuses that were making as many T cells as those of a young person.
Finding show that less than half of the adults over 65 do enough exercise to stay healthy and more than half of those aged over 65 suffer from at least two diseases. Janet Lord a professor and Director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, said: “Hippocrates in 400 BC said that exercise is man’s best medicine, but his message has been lost over time and we are an increasingly sedentary society.”
Strengthening muscles, tendons and ligaments with resistance exercise will make you stronger, help support the skeletal system and joints. Stronger muscles, tendons and ligaments can reduce your risk of having joint problems and help existing joint problems. You should talk with your doctor before you start because depending on what the joint problem, resistance training may aggravate it.
Aerobic exercises (walking, jogging, biking or swimming continuously for 15 minutes or more) are important but muscle-strengthening exercises are just as important to have a fit body. In fact, strength-building exercises are a necessary part of an aerobic program because they help keep the bones and joints strong enough to withstand aerobic training.
A complete workout should include exercises for each body part. This will include the chest, shoulders, triceps, back, biceps, forearm, thighs, calves and your abdominals (midsection). Start with 2 or 3 different exercises for each body part. Gradually work up to 8-12 repetitions for each exercise. Do each exercise 1-3 times to start. If you can do more than 12 repetitions for a set the weight is too light. If you can’t do at least 8 repetitions for a set the weight is too heavy.
We strongly recommend that you have a professional show you what to include in your routine and that you get an OK from your physician before you start. If you have chronic conditions such as, congestive heart failure, hypertension, arrhythmias, angina or diabetes they must be stable before starting an exercise program.