Making a New Year’s resolution to exercise
Roughly 80 percent of adults are not engaging in enough physical activity to reach the prescribed guidelines. Research has shown that a sedentary lifestyle is a major factor for serious adverse health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity, cholesterol issues, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer and depression.
According to the article “Do You Even Lift, Grandma? Why Older Adults Should Be Making Gains. It’s More Than Just Bro Science” by Robin Seaton Jefferson, published Oct. 15 in Forbes, “In 2008 there were 5.3 million deaths worldwide caused by a lack of physical activity out of the 57 million deaths worldwide.”
Jefferson found a 2016 study in the National Health Interview Survey that revealed “adults 65 years and older who strength trained twice a week had a 46% lower mortality rate and that strength training reduces all causes of death, including cancer and cardiac death.”
In a Nov. 21 article in The New York Times, “Regular Exercise May Keep Your Body 30 Years ‘Younger” by Gretchen Reynolds, the muscles of 70-year-old men and women who have exercised for decades are astonishingly similar to those of healthy 25 year olds.
Reynolds cited an August 2018 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology that found “the muscles of the older exercisers resembled those of young people, with as many capillaries and enzymes as theirs, and far more than in the muscles of the sedentary elderly.”
In this study, the older exercisers had the cardiovascular health of people 30 years younger than themselves. Reynolds concluded, “These findings about muscular and cardiovascular health in active older people suggest that what we now consider to be normal physical deterioration with aging may not be.”
On Oct. 24, Gretchen Reynolds in The New York Times wrote “Even a 10-Minute Walk May Be Good for the Brain,” which cites a study published in September in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. For Reynolds, the effects of exercise and memory were clear: participants “were better at remembering images after they had ridden the bike and the harder their memories had to strain, the better they performed after the exercise.”
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, but it’s a good idea to do more if you can. According to Christian K. Roberts, Ph.D., exercise physiologist of the Gerofit program at the Greater Los Angeles VA Health Care System, “although it depends on many factors, many older adults benefit from at least one hour per day of physical activity.”
Roberts goes on to say, “you want to do cardio — such as jogging, biking or swimming — as well as strength training, like lifting weights or using resistance bands. Strength training helps build muscle mass, which is especially key because it’s common for older adults to lose muscle.”
You should talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you are unsure where to exercise, or how to get started, it is a good idea to contact a physical therapist or certified personal fitness trainer in your area.
Guest columnist Eric Fitch is the owner and operator of Physically FITch in Chestertown. Fitch is certified through the American Council on exercise as a Personal Fitness Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Health Coach, Orthopedic Exercise Specialist and Senior Fitness Specialist.