Aging and the Decline in Physical Activity
Aging and Physical Activity:
Obviously, the aging process usually results in decreased physical activity and accompanying changes in body composition, which may result in some declines in body metabolism and a reduced functioning of your cardiovascular system. Also, the aging process results in several changes in the ability of our body to acquire and deliver oxygen to its tissues. These changes also include increasing stiffness of the chest wall, frequently and impaired blood flow through the lungs, reduced strength with each contraction of the heart and decreased muscle mass. It’s probably not that surprising that because of these physical changes, that aging takes a toll frequently on the physical work capacity of the elderly. The work capacity of the average 70-year-old is about half that of a 20-year-old. Many experts believe that the decreases in work capacity over this 50 year period of time are progressive, with the rate of loss usually accelerating after an individual’s mid-50’s.
Aging and metabolism:
The total body metabolism of an aging person will decline slightly but steadily over time. The maximum oxygen consumption during exercise (which may be considered a measurement of fitness) declines more rapidly because of the decrease in lean muscle mass and due to a reduction in the maximum heart rate as we get older. While it is very important to understand that there is great variability among different individuals, the maximum oxygen consumption tends to be higher in physically active people much more than in sedentary individuals. It is even higher in older athletes who are still in training. Maximum oxygen consumption is higher in men than women even after correcting for height, weight and other differences.
Aging and physical exercise:
Many studies are continuing to find that regular physical exercise is the best antidote to many of the effects of aging. The many benefits from regular exercise include favorable effects on reducing fats in your blood, better handling of blood sugar, increased maximum oxygen capacity, greater strength, denser bones, improved sense of well-being and better sleep. While it has not yet been proven, many feel that an exercise regimen reduces the chance of eventual disability and prolongs life expectancy. Current studies on aging however will probably demonstrate over the next several years, that many of these benefits truly do occur as a result of regular physical exercise.
Some information from the American Geriatrics Society Complete Guide to Aging and Health by Mark E. Williams M.D.
Additional information and web page by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist (Health Psychology)
Weight Control for Seniors: Why now at my age?
Weight control for seniors: An overview
Weight control for seniors focuses on the various complications related to obesity or excessive weight that frequently impact upon your health. The frequent focus of weight control for seniors is on the your general health as well as various medical conditions such as coronary heart disease, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and gall bladder disease. These disease conditions are second only to smoking as a cause of preventable death among the elderly. Various studies have concluded that even a reduction of between 5% and 15% of body weight may significantly decrease the risk of these medical problems if you’re either overweight or obese. Some experts actually believe that weight loss may not only reduce the incidence and severity of these diseases but may actually result in reversing the disease progression, which should be an added incentive for weight control for seniors.
Weight control for seniors: Are we there yet?
Although there is significant publicity about the multitude of health risks associated with being overweight and the spending of billions of dollars on products to make people thinner, many Americans are significantly overweight or obese. Some individuals have been more attentive to all the warnings and have significantly cut back on their level of dietary fat. Even studies as far back as 1997 had found that many Americans had reduced their consumption of total fat by approximately 6%, between 1987 and 1992. While this had resulted in achieving an average intake of approximately 36% of the total calories in fat, the amount recommended by most experts is about 30% or less of total calories consumed.
Although there has been some progress, way too many Americans continue to be either overweight or obese. Unfortunately, these statistics have continued to rise significantly since the 1980’s. A much more recent and ongoing study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has found that an estimated 61% of US adults are either overweight or obese. Their obesity or overweight status was defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more. The large proportion of Americans who are actually defined as obese is even more concerning in that between 1980 and 1999, the percentage of obese individuals has almost doubled from about 15% of the population to approximately 27%. Obesity is defined as having a BMI greater than or equal to 30.
Another huge concern is that obesity seems to be rising among all segments of the American population in addition to the elderly, including individuals from all ethnic backgrounds and especially among children and adolescents. Also, another very unsettling fact is that the obesity epidemic is not limited only to Americans but is increasing worldwide with the increased urbanization of the world’s population. Weight control for seniors and individuals from all age groups as well as ethnicities has now become a global problem.
Some information adapted from The Johns Hopkins Medical Guide to Health After 50 Webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist