As a teenager or someone in their early 20s, it’s easy to find the time and motivation to exercise.
As we get older, work, family and other commitments make finding time for exercise more challenging. We’d like to exercise, because we know we should, but getting down to it, and more importantly, sticking to it, is not that easy. There is always some (convenient) excuse why we don’t have enough time to exercise regularly. To make matters worse, any layoff from a regular exercise programme makes getting back into a regular exercise routine even more challenging. Our body can get lazy (for exercise) really fast.
Once we pass the age of 50, our bodies are on a downward spiral. Our hormonal system starts to deteriorate, we become lethargic, move less, lose strength and endurance and as a result become weaker and less mobile. Simply getting off a chair is accompanied by a subtle groan. We’re getting rusty. Our body needs an overhaul, before we succumb to being ‘old’.
Use it or lose it
The great thing about our body is that is can regenerate. You can retrain it and you can tune it, just like a sports car. The process occurs through exercise. More precisely, through progressive exercise. The more you challenge the body, the more it conditions itself to cope better with that physical challenge. It’s an amazing process. Your lungs, your heart, your muscles, your bones and lots of other stuff just get an upgrade. You can feel years younger, get heaps of energy, feel good about yourself and reignite the spark to live and enjoy life.
Or you can just sit back, take it easy, accept your age and watch yourself getting old, stiff, fat, weak and slow. As much as you can fine-tune your body, you can let it waste away, slowly.
Your body is a biomechanical movement machine. Stop moving, and the body will slowly break down.
Which way will you have it?
If you don’t look after you body, there is a list of conditions that will slowly start to creep up on you.
Health conditions that develop with ageing
As from the age of 50, our body starts to lose muscle mass as we age. This results in a weaker body, lower metabolism, fat accumulation, postural problems, increased likelihood of falling and general frailing of the body.
Weakening muscles, increased frailty and decreased balance and coordination increase the chances of falling. The leading cause of disability and injury death in people aged over 64 is falling.
Exercising regularly and remaining fit reduces the chances of suffering a heart attack with increasing age. Studies show that blood pressure is directly proportional to waist circumference. Therefore, if you suffer from high blood pressure, one of your main goals should be weight-loss, particulary from your waist. Aerobic exercise shows huge beneicial effects with regards to controlling blood sugar and blood triglyceride levels. Exercise in general has also been shown to increase your good (HDL) cholesterol that is heart-protective.
There are 5 primary factors, referred to as cardiovascular risk factors which influence your likelihood of suffering from a heart attack:
|Cardiovascular risk factor||Influenced by|
|Waist circumference||diet and exercise; weight-gain|
|Blood pressure||increases with increasing waist circumference|
|Cholesterol||diet and exercise|
|Triglycerides (fat in blood)||diet and especially exercise|
|Blood sugar||diet and exercise|
Inactivity and excess food intake increase the likelihood of developing type II diabetes, which can result in amputation, blindness and heart disease. Exercise is a powerful regulator of blood sugar, and studies have shown that it can be more powerful than diabetes medication (Metformin).
Exercise improves coordination, agility and balance, while stretching exercises increase flexibility and mobility if performed regularly. This results in a better quality of life.
Due to muscle loss in the upper body, the support for the skeletal structure is diminished, leading to poor posture, especially in the shoulders and spine. This can cause chronic pain in the back, neck and shoulders, impacting a person’s independence and body function.
Memory and cognitive function
Regular exercise has been shown to increase the cognitive function in older adults, and delay the onset of dementia.
Exercise, health, longevity and quality of life
Research completed on 3,500 individuals who were an average age of 64 found that those who were able to regularly work out at moderate or vigorous levels at least once a week were three to four times more likely to remain healthy while aging compared to those who didn’t exercise at all.
“Healthy aging” was defined as avoiding major diseases and disabilities, remaining in good mental health, keeping the same level of cognitive abilities and maintaining social connections and activities.
“The take-home message really is to keep moving when you are elderly,” lead investigator Dr. Mark Hamer, from the Epidemiology & Public Health at the University College London, told the BBC in an interview. “It’s a cliche, but it’s a case of use it or lose it. You do lose the benefits if you don’t remain active.”
We can help
If you’re over 50 and would like to engage in a fully supervised exercise programme that is suitable for your ability and any potential limitations, you can read more about our over 50s programme here: Exercise programmes for the over 50s