As we get older, our quality of life becomes more important. One of the biggest contributors to our well-being and health is physical activity and exercise. We want to emphasize the clear connection between exercise and reverse ageing gracefully. Exercise will improve the quality of your life so you can enjoy your family, your retirement and significantly reduce the risks of disease, injury, and frailty that we assume are inevitable consequences of ageing.
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Why We Need to Reverse Ageing: The Physical Decline Of Old Age
Studies show that only one in 10 Australians over the age of 50 exercise enough to gain any cardiovascular benefits.
Some estimates suggest that about half of the physical decline associated with old-age may be due to physical inactivity.
These are the changes we see as you age:
- Reduced muscle mass, 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
- Increase blood pressure
- Increase susceptibility to mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression
- Increased risk of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and stroke
A study conducted into the effects of prolonged bed rest show that after only three weeks, 20-year-olds developed many of the risk characteristics of men twice their age. Inactivity is a killer.
Ageing is inevitable, but there is so much we can do to delay that process, reverse ageing and continue to lead vigorous healthy lives and slow that clock.
Reverse Your Age By 20 years? 8 Benefits of Regular Exercise For Older People
Is it possible to reverse your age by 20 years? When you are active and exercise regularly, the body adapts to the positive stress and you feel benefits across many systems.
Muscle: 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. Muscle mass can increase in the older person after regularly exercising, even for a relatively short period of time.
Bone: Bone density begins to decline after the age of 40 as a result of bone loss. As a result, older people are more prone to fractures. Exercise can help reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. Weight-bearing and resistance exercise in particular keeps bones healthy and strong.
Cardiorespiratory System: Studies show that fitness takes longer to achieve in the older person than young person, but the physical benefits are similar. You can benefit from exercise at any age.
The research found that men respond to training nearly as well at the age of 50 as they did when they were 20. It is likely the same benefits are true for women who are physically active as they age. Regardless of age, people are able to improve their cardiorespiratory fitness through regular exercise.
Joints: You need your joints to move to remain supple and healthy. People suffering from arthritis particularly benefit from aerobic and strengthening exercise programs.
Body fat: Levels are kept in check with regular exercise which increases muscle mass. Increased muscle helps speed up your metabolism to burn more fat. Exercise is a key component of maintaining appropriate weight as you age.
Sleep: If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night, you may not have to resort to medication — try exercising. According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, people who spent 150 minutes exercising every week (that’s just over 20 minutes a day) had a 65% improvement in the quality of their sleep.
Mood: The link between exercise and mood is strong. Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise, you get a mood enhancement effect. Working out isn’t only a stress reliever — when you see results from exercise over time your confidence is likely to improve as well.
Brain: Exercise helps prevent memory loss by improving blood flow to the brain and also reduces your chance of developing cognitive decline and dementia. Aerobic exercise also promotes the formation of new brain cells.
How To Start Exercising and Reverse The Effects of Ageing
The best exercise is one that you enjoy doing and can do consistently. Weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging, or resistance training definitely helps maintain bone density as you age. Weights and strength work to maintain muscle bulk becomes more important as you age.
Cardiovascular training is accessible through walking, running, cycling, or any of the domestic exercise machines available such as rowing machines, treadmills, exercise bikes, and stair climbers.
Exercise classes designed specifically for an older population are great options. These are available at local recreation centres and gyms. Exercise physiologists can also design programs for older people with diabetes available through a care program from your GP.
Contacting your local council can give you a full range of services they provide, often at little to no cost to you.
Precautions on Starting A New Exercise Routine
If you are over 40 years of age, obese, suffer from a chronic illness, or have been inactive for some time, see your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. You can also get a running assessment to customise a running program.
Gradually increase the level of your exercise. This is a long-term commitment, so be sensible, but consistent. The body, particularly your tendons and connective tissue, take time to adapt to the increased loads of exercise. Your musculoskeletal system will become stronger over time and help reverse the effects of ageing.
Always remember to do an active movement warm up to gradually increase circulation to the muscles and prepare your body for the task ahead. Stay hydrated, listen to your body, and understand that this is a long term commitment.
Conclusion to Reverse Ageing
Remember those 20-year-olds that spent three weeks in bed. They were followed up and tested again when they were 50. They showed a decline in fitness over the years, but six months of steady exercise allowed them to get back to the cardiovascular levels they had at the age of 20. Exercise training reversed 100% of the 30-year-old age related decline in fitness levels! That is an amazing result and shows that exercise and physical activity are integral in maintaining our health as we age. In many cases, regular physical activity can slow and even help to reverse ageing.
Why not make that commitment? You have nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain.
We hope that you are ready to get out there and start exercising. If you have an old injury preventing you from getting going or want to discuss starting a program, contact us at Northwest Physiotherapy Group.