Aging and Exercise

Can you imagine what Venus Williams’ or Adrian Peterson’s workouts will be like when they are in their 50s? Even great athletes who wish to remain in peak physical condition must learn how to modify their activity as they age.

As early as age 30 and by 40 at the latest, the body:

  • Loses muscle strength and one percent of muscle mass each year
  • Begins to produce more fat tissue
  • Loses aerobic effectiveness by at least a half percent each year
  • Loses about 3.5 inches of lower back and hip flexibility

Rather than succumbing to nature’s course, it’s important for everyone – not just athletes – to remain active as they age. Inactivity and obesity, especially in the extreme, can be as harmful as smoking.

While many older adults understand this at some level, they may struggle to start an exercise program. I have helped many people create plans to:

  • Identify and overcome barriers so that activity can be enjoyed
  • Provide minor pain control or muscle strengthening
  • Overcome balance challenges
  • Set specific incremental goals
  • Recruit family/spouse support
  • Provide positive reinforcement

Unless an individual has very severe health conditions, most exercise prescriptions I help develop include elements of cardiovascular activity, strength training, flexibility exercises and balance.

There are too many benefits of a well thought out exercise program to list. General benefits include improved fitness and mobility to reduced risk of falls, cardiovascular disease, cancers and cognitive decline. For many of the patients I see at OrthoNebraska with orthopaedic challenges, exercise can help to offset the loss of bone density, decrease the potential for fractures and also lessen the risk of falling.

I hope that if you or a loved one are considering starting an exercise program, you do your research and get the help you need to be successful.

Need help with an exercise program? Call (402) 637-0800 for an appointment.

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