Exercise Turns Back The Clock
Aging doesn't have to mean slowing down, and in fact, according to recent research findings, we needn't lose any physical fitness ground at all. Active seniors can be as fit - or in some cases, even more fit - than those who are years younger but less active.
Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas recently rounded up a group of 50-plus males who had participated in an exercise study 30 years earlier. The objective: to compare cardiovascular fitness levels, and see what a training program could accomplish.
The men followed an exercise program for six months (walking, jogging and/or cycling), gradually increasing the frequency, duration and intensity.
By the conclusion of the study, they were exercising vigorously for about four and a half hours per week, over four or five sessions.
Aerobic power was then measured and compared with their pre-training scores as 20 year olds. It was found that while they were not able to match their post-training scores from previous testing, they had recovered all of the cardiovascular decline that had taken place over the years. In other words, they achieved the same level of fitness as the average, untrained 20 year old.
Exercise physiologist Miriam Nelson speculated that the findings were also relevant to older women. Although they might not be able to regain quite the same level of fitness they had years before, they could probably recapture quite a bit of it with proper training.
Couch potatoes take note: When the men in the study were 20 years old, they were tested for their reaction to three weeks of bed rest. It proved more damaging to their cardiovascular fitness than 30 years of aging.
Another researcher who has found that exercise can keep seniors as fit as 20 year olds is Dr. Stefano Taddei, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Pisa in Italy. He and his research team compared blood vessel function among four groups: sedentary and active seniors, and sedentary and active 20 somethings.
Not surprisingly, sedentary seniors had the worst blood vessel function, but the active runners and cyclists (average age 66) had blood vessels that were just as healthy as both groups of younger subjects.
According to cardiologist Paul Thompson, the positive effects of exercise on blood vessels can be realized quickly and dramatically: "Just one exercise session can help improve endothelium (the blood vessel lining) function. This is significant because a healthy endothelium allows the vessels to expand when the heart needs more blood, which can help to prevent hardening of the arteries."
So what's the moral of the story? Get moving! Even a half hour walk each day will help to boost your vessel functioning and keep your cardiovascular system working as it should. The bonus? You'll feel better, look better and have the satisfaction of knowing that you're in better shape that a whole lot of people who are more than half your age!
With thanks to the Active Living newsletter, March 2002
||Exercise Turns Back the Clock`
||Active Living (Grimsby, Ont.)
||Disability Today Publishing Group, Inc.
|SIRC Article #
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