Survival Of The Fittest!

Why exercise becomes more important as we age.

How would you act if you didn't know your age? Chances are, you'd probably just go out and do the things that you always did and enjoyed. But now that you've reached that 'certain age', isn't it time to slow down and take it easy?

No way! If anything, regular physical activity is even more important in older adults than those with fewer candles on their cake.

It is now widely accepted that many changes associated with ageing are not just the 'wear and tear' of an old and failing machine, but also as a result of inactivity.

Quite simply, our bodies work on a 'use it or lose it' system of self-maintenance. Ask your legs to carry you to the shops every day, and your arms to carry the shopping back, and you'll keep the 'gift' of strength in these areas. Let your family and friends help out and get it for you, and your body will take back all the strength it has given you.

Recent studies into ageing have shown that functional capacity in older adults declines by around 1-2% per year resulting in a loss of muscular strength, aerobic capacity, flexibility and bone density. Perhaps not surprisingly, this loss of function has been shown to be greatly accelerated in those with little or no regular physical activity.

The reverse of this is also true. Those who engage in moderate activity most days of the week can reduce the effects of ageing and even improve their fitness. Several studies into the processes of ageing have recorded significant improvement in both strength and cardiovascular fitness in subjects who were over 90 years old!

It's never too late! No matter how de-conditioned you may be, your body has the ability to improve. All you have to do is ask! But how much is enough and what type?

Almost all health professionals agree that as little as 30 minutes of activity seven days a week can have a dramatic and positive effect on health and improve function for living. A good gym or exercise class can provide all the components of a well structured fitness plan but is by no means the only way to get your 30 minute dose of health.

Walking the dog, washing the car, gardening, raking leaves or anything that involves moving your large muscle groups rhythmically, are all perfectly acceptable forms of activity. These types of activity require you to breathe more rapidly and increase your heart rate, exercising the most important muscle of all.

The message is quite simple. Do something! Do anything! Stay active and reap the rewards of a body that doesn't know how old you are. After all - you're only as old as you feel!

Dax Moy
MPT, PES, MAT

DaxMoy : Personal Trainer in London