Exercise Programs for Older Adults. Part 1

Thursday, September 27, 2012 11:48
Posted in category Fitness

As Olympic marathon runner Kenny Moore says, “You don’t stop exercising because you grow old. You grow old because you stop exercising.” Scientists are discovering that the true fountain of youth can be found within our own bodies, and enhanced by our lifestyle choices.

Even within one individual, organs can age at different rates, according to the National Institute on Aging. This suggests that genetics, lifestyle and disease all affect the rate of aging, and that several distinct processes are involved. The American Medical Association’s Committee on Aging studied the phenomenon of aging and found that it is virtually impossible to discriminate between the effects of aging and the effects of inactivity.(5) Therefore, age should never be viewed as a limiting factor in developing an exercise program. An older adult who exercises will, through the expansive benefits of regular vigorous exercise, live a healthier, more enjoyable life.

Benefits of exercise

Cardiovascular endurance. Cardiovascular disease is often referred to as the “disease of choice,” because it relates so strongly to daily living habits. Seventy percent of all deaths from cardiovascular disease could be prevented by making lifestyle changes. Regular physical activity helps adults age slower and enjoy life more.(1)

Many people mistakenly believe that aerobic capacity cannot be increased in an older adult. However, a study by Dr. Michael Pollock at the University of Florida on runners and sedentary individuals over the age of 40 showed the opposite.(11) When the weight, body fat and aerobic capacity of the runners and sedentary individuals were compared, the runners possessed greater aerobic capacity and lower body fat than their sedentary counterparts. The most exciting part of this research was the lack of diminshed aerobic capacity between the 40-year-old and the 75-year-old runners. Ten years later, the runners underwent new testing. Even though they had aged by an entire decade, they showed no loss in aerobic capacity. Aerobic capacity can, therefore, be increased and maintained throughout an individual’s life.

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