Incorporating exercise improves your chances of living long and living well.

Incorporating exercise improves your chances of living long and living well.

Most older adults fear losing their independence more than they fear death. Those who want to maintain physical and emotional independence must engage in regular exercise, as proper exercise can help older adults prolong their independence.

Unfortunately many seniors believe they are too old to start exercising. In fact, we are NEVER TOO OLD to start an exercise program if done prudently and with a physician’s approval. 

A study by Dr. Herbert A. deVries, former director of the Andrus Gerontology Center at the University of Southern California and a pioneer in his field, demonstrated that men and women in their 70’s and 80’s can achieve levels of vigor associated with people 30 years younger. 

His findings contradicted the widespread belief that the elderly cannot improve physiologically, and at best may only slow their decline. On the contrary, regular participation in physical activity can raise the fitness level of an active 64 year-old to that of an average, sedentary 30 year-old. Assuming that there are no underlying disorders, exercise can make an 85 year-old as strong as a 55 year-old person.

Dr. Alex Lief of Harvard Medical School believes that exercise is the closest thing that we have to an anti-aging pill. He states, “regular daily physical activity has been a way of life for virtually every person who has reached the age of 100 in sound condition.” 

By the year 2050, the expected life span will be 82 years of age. In 1980, the number of Americans older than 65 years of age was approximately 25 million, and researchers predict that by the year 2030 that number will grow to 63 million. Currently the fastest growing segment of the population in the United States is those 85 and older.

Extended life would not mean much if it simply meant living more years with disease and disability. Healthy habits not only reduce the risk of fatal heart attacks and cancer, but also reduce chronic ailments that can be physically, psychologically and financially debilitating. 

What’s the bottom line? If consistent exercise is a part of your life, you improve your chances of living long, and living well.

Remember, the same steps that add years to your life can add life to your years!

Always consult your physician before starting any fitness program.

Howard Rubinstein is an ISSA certified trainer who began his fitness career as a senior with the goal of helping other seniors stay – and get – fit. He welcomes your questions and can be reached at (760) 464.5339 or [email protected].

Source: 1) International Sports Sciences Association workbook

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