The physical effects of aging and the counter effects of fitness training
is reflected by the level of cardio-respiratory fitness (CRF) which is being measured and expressed through the VO2max (maximal Oxygen uptake). CRF declines at a much greater rate after age 45 in both men and women depending on exercise habits, Body Mass Index and smoking. Those leaner, trained and non-smoking experienced in many different studies far lower declines in CRF than their untrained, overweight and smoking counterparts.However even those who smoked or were overweight were protected from early death if they exercised/walked at least 30 minutes per day, reinforcing the importance of exercise.
depends on several physical abilities that all decline with age, such as strength, mobility, neuron-transmission speed, eye sight, proprioceptive information flow, depreciation of vestibular system etc. Many of these physical abilities can be corrected and/or their regression slowed through adequate fitness training. For example: A loss of strength and decreased mobility and flexibility commonly effects posture negatively increasing the challenge to maintain the body’s center of gravity over the base of support. Exercises geared to correct postural deficiencies can reduce the negative impact on balance.Another example: Reducing physical activities such as golfing, tennis or dancing reduced the stimulus for the proprioceptors, starting up a fitness program and reintegrating some of the activities done earlier in life will awaken those receptors and can reverse the negative effect on balance.
is diminished in almost all older adults. Over time the cartilage that protects the bones inside the joints starts to degenerate and eventually bone starts to grind on bone. This degenerative condition is known as Osteoarthritis and affects nearly 27 million Americans. It leads to pain and joint stiffness and often results in joint replacement. Studies have shown improvements in joint function and joint pain in those who exercise regularly choosing low impact aerobics and light to moderate weight lifting. The Arthritis Foundation has created an exercise program called PACE (People with Arthritis Can Exercise) that offers tips and instructions for land and water based exercising with Osteoarthritis.
can become impaired as we age. Studies have shown that adults ages 55 and older showed in MRI testing substantial declines in brain tissue density in areas associated with memory and thinking. Those who were actively involved in regular cardiovascular fitness training showed significantly lower losses. Another study showed that individuals 65 and older, who walked at least 3 days per week had a 35% lower incident rate of dementia than those who walked less or not at all. These results are very encouraging and should be taken into serious consideration when battling Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.
In the US about 14% of males and 18% of females over the age of 55 struggling with some form of depression or another. There is unfortunately very little research on exercising and depression in older adults. It is however safe to assume that it shows similar results as we see in younger adults with depression. Even if it’s not a depression cure for Seniors aerobic exercises can at least help alleviate the negative impacts of depression and enhance the mental outlook.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that exercise is a great tool to improve quality of life, stave off disease and the negative effects of aging as it has made it’s way into almost every therapy protocol known to men. There is no age limit on when to start, and there is no success limit due to age as long as we take preexisting conditions that require changes to an exercise routine and the slower adaptation to training into consideration. I recommend you start by discussing your training plan with your physician and let a fitness professional guide you in the set-up of a program that takes your individual situation into account.
Andrew S. Jackson; Xuemei Sui; James R. Hébert; Timothy S. Church; Steven N. Blair. ” Role of Lifestyle and Aging on the Longitudinal Change in Cardiorespiratory Fitness.” Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(19):1781-1787