This post is prompted by a conversation I had with my father recently. We were talking about my personal training certification program, and he was curious what it said about “old people.”
While his comment first took me by surprise, once I thought about it, the reality is that my dad is quickly falling into the category of “old person.” He stays pretty active, but he was curious if my personal training program mentioned anything about how older adults can maintain a healthy lifestyle. Lucky for him, my program does talk about this subject!
Here is an excerpt from my ISSA book about aging:
Dr. Herbert DeVries of USC has shown that men and women in their 70s and 80s can achieve levels of vigor associated with people 30 years younger. This means that assuming there are no underlying disorders, exercise can make an 85-year-old as strong as a 55-year-old person. Regular participation in physical activity can raise the fitness level of an active 64-year-old to that of an average, sedentary 30-year-old. Dr. Alex Lief of Harvard Medical School believes that exercise is the closest thing we have to an anti-aging pill. He states, “Regular daily physical activity has been a way of life for virtually every person who has reached the age of 100 in sound condition.” By the year 2050, the expected life span will be 82 years of age. Nowadays, it is not surprising to hear of people celebrating their 70th birthdays, but that was not the case 40 years ago.
Older adults who want to maintain physical and emotional independence must engage in regular exercise. Most older adults fear losing their independence more than they fear death. Proper exercise can help older adults prolong their independence. Unfortunately, many older adults believe they are too old to start exercising. In fact, we are never too old to start an exercise program if it is done prudently and with a physician’s input. Many of the deleterious effects associated with aging are now being found to be the end result of the effects of hypo-kinetic disease (AKA: couch potato syndrome). Unfit people will experience a decline in physiological performance of approximately 2% per year while fit people will only decline by about 0.5% per year. Over a lifetime, that makes a significant difference!
Aging affects the function of all body systems. In his book, We Live Too Short and Die Too Long, Dr. Bortz says, “Almost everything we have been taught about aging is wrong. We now know that a very fit body of 70 can be the same as a moderately fit body of 30.” We are now entering an exciting time when medical doctors, exercise physiologists, and gerontologists are all redefining what aging is. No longer should we expect to get sick, get heart disease, get Alzheimer’s disease or any of the other maladies commonly associated with the passage of time.
So as you can see, all is not lost. If you find yourself getting up there in age, now is the time to take control of your health and start living a more physically active life. Not only will it add years to your life, but it will make those years more enjoyable!
If you have any additional questions about the aging process, please let me know. I’d be happy to help.