Blog on exercise and ageing

The Importance of Exercise in Healthy Ageing

We all know that exercise is good for us, but some people think that with each passing year they should try to do less and take it easy.
 
This is quite the opposite in fact, as we age the importance of exercise only becomes greater!
 
We can often take our health for granted, especially when we are young, which can more often than not come back over time to haunt us later in life.
 
To ensure that we are giving ourselves the best possible chances of leading a fit and healthy life, long into our gold years, is through consistent exercise and physical activity.

“Exercise should be an important part of our lives from when we are young through to our last remaining days upon the earth”

Chris Hunt: Exercise Physiologist Tweet

This may seam a bit far-fetched, but it depicts how important exercise is and should be taken when it comes to completing it throughout our lives. 

With the continued growth in technology and medical research resulting in today’s generations living longer, the awareness and understanding of exercise, it’s ties to quality of life need to be recognised.

 
At present we may have the capacity to live longer, but is our quality of life over those newly found years worth living??
 

A recent reports indicates that 9.5 million adults within Australia are regarded as inactive or are performing low levels of physical activity. 

This isn’t great news for a country that is

  1. Already in the midst of weight management crisis, with 63% of it’s population being classed as overweight or obese 
  2. 1 in every 2 Australians have at least one prominent chronic disease
  3. 60% suffer 2 or more chronic diseases
But the good news…
 
One third are preventable by modifiable risk factors, one of those is physical inactivity and a lack of exercise in your lifestyle!

A Failure to Exercise

It is believed that about half of the physical decline associated with ageing is due to a lack of physically activity. 

Without regular exercise as we become susceptible to: 

  • Reduced muscle mass, strength and physical endurance
  • Reduced coordination and balance
  • Reduced joint flexibility and mobility
  • Reduced cardiovascular and respiratory functions
  • Reduced bone strength
  • Increased body fat levels
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased prevalence of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression
  • Increased risk of various diseases including cardiovascular disease and stroke. 
After the age of 30, you begin to lose as much as 3-5% per decade in terms of muscle mass. A reduction in lean muscle mass is a big concern as we age. 

In the elderly, low muscle mass causes a loss in strength and mobility and can pave the way for increases in risk of falls and fractures, loss of independence and early mortality. 

Exercise Misconceptions

There are many misconceptions that older people tend to believe. This often results in the abandonment of exercise and physical activity.
 
These include:
 
  • The human body doesn’t require as much physical activity when older.
  • Exercise is dangerous for older people because they may injure themselves.
  • Only vigorous and sustained exercise is of any use.

Other factors that will often result in a lack of exercise amongst those over the age 50.

  • A greater preference for sedentary activities such as reading and socialising.
  • Exercise is often associated with hard work and soreness.
  • The presence of any chronic pain will deter those under the impression it will make it worse or hurt them.
  • The relatively high cost of some sports or exercise facilities will turn people away.
  • Many sports and activities tend to be targeted at younger people, which often makes older people feel unwelcome.

The Benefit of Exercise

Exercise has shown in recent times to hold medicine like effects for both our physical and mental health. 

But it’s what we do in the lead up to our older years is what will ultimately determine our quality of life.

 
Below is some of the many benefits of regular exercise:
 
Strength and Muscle Mass –  no matter your age, regular resistance training can help to maintain and even increase strength and muscle mass.
 
Bone Density – Just like muscle, our bone density will start to decline once we surpass the age of 40. As a result of this bone loss, older people become more prone to bone fractures. Exercise and weight bearing physical activities such as walking, running, jumping and lifting weights can really help slow the decline and promote bone growth.
 
Heart and Lung health – The number one cause of death in Australia is heart disease, which makes looking after our heart and lungs a priority. Studies show that regardless of age, people are able improve their cardiorespiratory fitness through regular aerobic exercise.
 
Joints like to move – The more we sit, the less our joints are required to work which can often result in feeling of stiffness. By exercising regularly, it keeps our joints supple and healthy, and it becomes more essential for those suffering with arthritis.
 
Fight the Fat – Carrying too much body fat has long been associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. By exercising regularly, it helps to burn calories, increase muscle mass and speed the metabolism. This ensures older people are able to maintain an appropriate weight for their height and build.

Getting Active and Getting Results

If you are someone who is new to exercise and wanting information on the best ways to get started.
 
Have a read of a few tips below:
 
  • Exercise doesn’t have to be seen as a chore, there are a number of great ways to be physically active we just have to find the one that suits you the best!
 
  • Exercising with friends is a great way stay motivated and get results.
 
  • The safest and easiest forms of exercise include walking, swimming and cycling.
 
  • Weight training is great for building strength and muscle. Benefits can be achieved in as little as 6 weeks.
 
  • Start slow at your own pace and build up over time. Changes will take time a nd a great way to stay motivated is to keep a track of your progress through a training log or diary.
 
  • Ensure you are drinking water and staying hydrated, the Gold Coast can turn into an oven during the summer.
  • If you are over 40 and suffer from chronic pain or illness, or haven’t exercised in a while. It would pay to see us at Fighting Fit first to get a comprehensive assessment and tailor the exercise to what is most appropriate for you.

“It is paramount that all generations are aware of the many consequences a lack of exercise can have, but also the many benefits!”

The information within this blog is to help raise awareness around the importance of exercise for healthy aging. 

In a society where our lives are becoming more sedentary by the day through the use of technology, it’s important that we aim to develop good exercise habits from a young age and ensure we carry them into the golden years to give us the best possible chance of leading a long, happy and healthy life.

So start exercising today, even just becoming more physically active! If you don’t know where to start or something is holding you back ie pain, stiffness, injury or disease, PLEASE contact us as helping people like you are what we do best!

Want to get more active in life?

Book a consultation with our Exercise Physiologist, Sports & Exercise Scientist and Strength & Conditioning Coach today!
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Chris Hunt( Exercise Physiologist )

Chris Hunt is Fighting Fit’s Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Sport Scientist and Strength and Conditioning Coach. He has a special interest in enhancing physical performance in everyone from athletes to elderly.

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