Statistics show less than half of Australian adults aged 65 and over undertake the recommended amount of physical activity required to gain a health benefit. This is an alarming statistic, especially considering that exercise participation becomes more vital as you get older.
As you age (and live a more sedentary lifestyle) you begin to lose muscle mass. This phenomenon is defined by the term ‘sarcopenia’. On average you will experience a 1-2% loss of muscle mass per year after the age of 50; and you will lose approximately 50% of muscle mass lost by 80 years of age.
However, sarcopenia IS NOT inevitable. Your lifestyle choices have a major influence over your loss of muscle tissue.
Physical activity participation can prevent the reduction in muscle mass that is commonly seen among older adults; as well as increase your ability to function with activities of daily living.
We often hear the common misconception that people are “too old” to complete a certain task or activity. Activities like playing golf, skiing, or going for a bush walk. However, the research shows that when it comes to decline - age really is just a number. This is highlighted in the graph below which demonstrates that an 80-year-old strength-trained man can be stronger than a 20-year-old untrained man.
Therefore, it is our goal with this exercise physiology blog article to demonstrates that anyone at any age CAN participate in exercise. We also want to encourage you to begin exercising now, because your body will adapt and it’s better late than never!
The reasons that many older adults have for considering getting back into exercise vary. This may involve wanting to be able to keep up with your kids or grandkids, simply improving overall health and lifestyle, or looking to make a change after receiving a scare from your local GP. However, no matter what the reason is for your exercise participation, you will certainly benefit from this lifestyle intervention.
These benefits include a decreased risk of:
- Nursing home admissions
How do I begin exercising?
Joining your local gym may seem daunting, especially when you consider yourself in a setting of heavy weights and big bodybuilders. However, searching for an Exercise Physiologist or a gym like Inspire Fitness for Wellbeing where you are welcomed and encouraged in a friendly atmosphere is a great start. An Exercise Physiologist can assist you with designing an appropriate exercise program for your individual needs; taking into account your background of injuries and / or medical conditions if required.
Here is a guide from our team of Exercise Physiologists of 5 types of exercises that you should incorporate into your exercise routine:
Improving your level of aerobic fitness will increase your capacity to exercise. This will have significant benefits in delaying fatigue, improving heart and lung health, as well as improving your mental health.
It is recommended that you complete weight training of all the major muscle groups at least twice a week. This is important in building bone, muscle, joint and surrounding muscle tissue strength. Other benefits of weight/resistance training include improved metabolic functioning, and a decreased risk of injury, falls and fatigue.
The core muscles are important in supporting your spine. Learning correct technique when training core strength will benefit your posture and core stability. This can improve balance and decrease the risk of falls and the resulting injury.
Stretching is important to counteract the loss of muscle elasticity that occurs from ageing. This will help develop muscular strength, improve posture, increase blood flow and reduce the risk of falls.
Training balance is important for proprioception and motor control. Tasks and activities that were once easier to complete can become more complex with age. Therefore, being able to control your limbs in space and having a greater control over your body will increase your confidence in the ageing process.
For more information about specific exercises and demonstrations on how to complete them, visit Inspire Fitness for Wellbeing today and speak to one of our Clinical Exercise Physiologists. You can call us on 9857 3007.
1. Metter EJ, Conwit R, Tobin J, Fozard JL. Age-associated loss of power and strength in the upper extremities in women and men. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1997;52:B267–B276. [PubMed]
2. Hughes VA, Frontera WR, Roubenoff R, Evans WJ, Fiatarone-Singh MA. Longitudinal changes in body composition in older men and women: role of body weight change and physical activity.
Am J Clin Nutr. .2002;76:473-481.