Health and Nutrition

Physical exercise and old age

The aging process is necessary and natural in our lives. Gerontology (the science that studies man’s aging process) addresses areas beyond and related to age-related diseases in order to recognize that successful aging requires maintaining physiological function and improved physical fitness. According to researchers Mcardle and Katch, much of the physiological deterioration previously considered “normal aging” arose with lifestyle and environmental influences subject to significant change with proper diet and exercise.

Along with the increase in life expectancy came the population growth, which felt the need to follow an appropriate exercise program as a preventive measure for the maintenance and optimization of health. Physiological aging does not necessarily follow chronological age, as this varies from person to person, taking into account many factors, but mainly the lifestyle of each. There are 60-year-olds with better fitness and quality of life than some 30-year-olds.

Physical inactivity is certainly a powerful enemy for those who want a healthy life. Over the years, we lose muscle mass, flexibility, strength, balance and bone mass. In contrast, our body fat increases. There are a number of modifications in the different body systems that suffer deleterious effects, in addition to the decline in functional capacities and changes in physiological functioning. In this sense, physical exercise is a great ally and can prevent and delay aging.

The most important consequence of this process is decreased muscle strength due to muscle loss or sarcopenia. Muscle strength declines by approximately 15% per decade. Between the ages of 60 and 70, the decline is even steeper. Strength is the most important component of the physical fitness of the elderly, because as he gets older he loses the ability to perform basic daily functions, such as getting up from the chair, getting in and out of the car, climbing stairs, among others. Physical exercise becomes an indispensable activity in old age, considering that:

– slows down the aging process;

– provides a better social interactive interaction;

– decreases the chances of falling for lack of balance and strength;

– increases the level of spontaneous physical activity;

– increases bone density;

– controls diseases such as arthrosis, diabetes and heart type;

– decreases depression.

The most suitable exercises for seniors are low impact aerobics (walking, cycling, water aerobics), and weight exercises, such as weight training, yoga, pilates and stretching, which also promote highly relevant benefits. It is noteworthy that it is important that the elderly choose the exercise they are happy to perform, thus not running the risk of abandoning the activity, maintaining a regularity.

There is increasing scientific evidence pointing to the beneficial effect of an active lifestyle in maintaining functional capacity and physical autonomy during the aging process. Therefore, for a joyful future, we must choose an activity and get out of the comfort zone. By exercising regularly, we will age with a much better quality of life.

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