Adults Can Stay Healthy and Active Despite Old Age

Aging may not have to mean losing mobility or strength

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) You can't avoid aging, but you don't have to feel old. Exercise may keep people from feeling older.

In a recent article, orthopedic surgeons said exercise can keep older people spry and healthy.

"Ask an exercise specialist to help you become more active."

Bryan Vopat, MD, at Brown University in Providence, RI, and colleagues wrote the review article on how being fit can help with aging.

The authors noted that much age-related decline is due to idle lifestyles and medical issues rather than aging itself. They pointed out that older adults were the least active age group in the US.

They added, however, that intense, frequent exercise may slow physical decline in older athletes.

And older athletes aren't rare. For example, the researchers noted that more than 850,000 US adults older than 40 took part in triathlons.

“The aging process scares many people but it doesn't need to,” said Jim Crowell, head coach at Optimum Performance Training in Scottsdale, AZ, in an interview with dailyRX News. “I have seen countless people in their 40's, 50's, and 60's get into the best shape of their lives. The keys to success are a really quality diet that's generally low in sugar, a consistent workout plan that is long term in nature, and an active lifestyle that is enjoyable.

“While that sounds general, it's because it is. But it doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't need to be overly complicated. It simply needs to become a part of your lifestyle so that you are consistently progressing forward for the long run.”

The review authors stressed that exercise should include resistance, endurance, flexibility and balance training to keep all parts of the body working well.

Resistance training should be intense for lengthy periods of time to build muscle strength, the authors wrote. To build up endurance, exercise at least 150 to 300 minutes a week, in 10- to 30-minute episodes, they suggest. This is good for the heart as well as the muscles.

Working out less intensely, or for shorter periods of time, will also help keep you healthy, but to a lesser extent. At least two days a week should include flexibility exercises like stretches to help maintain range of motion and improve balance, the authors added.

If exercising strenuously, increase your intake of protein and carbohydrates, the review authors cautioned, and increase how hard and how long you work out over time.

While regular, intense exercise is the focus of the review, regular exercise of any nature helps, the authors wrote. But continuing the practice is important because, after just a year of not exercising regularly, patients may lose balance and bone strength.

It’s never too late to start, but start off slowly and do something you like, the authors said.

This review appears in the September issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Dr. Paul Fadale, one of the authors of the review, noted that he or a family member had received support from Arthrex, DePuy Mitek, and Smith & Nephew.

Review Date: 
August 29, 2014
Last Updated:
August 31, 2014