Australia is an ageing population and our inactivity and sedentary lifestyles are ageing us faster than what needs to be the case. Whilst medical science is advancing on a daily basis, as a species we’re regressing just as fast! Statistics indicate that:
i) for the first time in history this may be the first generation of children to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents due to the increased incidence of childhood obesity and
ii) Type II Diabetes rates are increasing at such a rate that by 2020, should trends not change, almost 20% of the Australian population will suffer from this ailment.
Unfortunately some of our older citizens think (incorrectly) that it’s too late for them to take up exercise.
This is a fallacy.
A study conducted and published in the prestigious Journal of Applied Physiology back in 2001 showed conclusively that a group of men and women with an average age of 69 who trained over a six month period of time showed marked improvements.
Two groups were assessed before and after either an endurance or strength training regimen that lasted six months. Researchers reviewed muscle changes within the thigh muscle and found that the endurance trained group showed positive changes in energy producing pathways such that the muscle was better able to use of oxygen and delivery energy.
The resistance trained group showed even better positive changes in the muscle’s energy deliver system and was the only group to change the structural integrity of the muscle. This older muscle has now more mitochondria (energy houses), which are the power house of every cell, as well as increasing the size of the muscle.
Why would the older people need bigger muscles?1. Muscle shrinks with age. Less muscle mass means a lowered resting metabolic rate which means the accumulation of more body fat.
2. Muscles pull on bones keeping bones strong. If muscle size/strength dwindles the muscles don’t pull on the bones as hard weakening the bones and increasing the risk of osteoporosis or thinning of the bones which means such bones break more easily.
3. Stronger muscles aid in independent living as we get older. For example it is easier to load groceries in and out of the car and balance and general function are maintained significantly when you maintain muscle as you age.
So, if all you've been doing to date is aerobic/cardio exercise, that's a great start! But you may want to add resistance/strength training to your exercise regimen. There is little doubt that resistance/strength training is the “Fountain of Youth” and the long term benefits are well worth the time investment.
REFERENCE: Journal of Applied Physiology: 2001 May;90(5):1663-70Guy Leech is passionate about health issues like obesity and heart disease and has established a multimedia platform from which he educates and motivates Australians about the importance of fitness and health. Read more at guyleechfitness.com