"If exercise could be packaged in a pill, it would be the single most widely prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation." - Dr Robert Butler
There is strong evidence that supports that increased levels of physical activity can lead to improved health in older adults. Despite a widely held belief that exercise is for the young, this couldn't be further from the truth. It may be even more important for people over 50 to exercise than the younger generations.
As we age, the size and strength of our muscles progressively deteriorates. This can affect our capacity to perform everyday activities like standing up from a chair, climbing stairs or carrying groceries. For some people, muscle wasting becomes more severe, leading to falls, frailty, immobility and a loss of autonomy.
People who experience severe loss in muscle mass, strength and function as they age may be suffering from sarcopenia, a syndrome mainly seen in the elderly but can also present itself earlier in life.
Sarcopenia is to our muscles what osteoporosis is to our bones.
By 2022, it is estimated there will be 6.2 million Australians over 50 with osteoporosis. As a society we often underestimate the importance of bone health on our overall health as we age. There are a few things you can do to help maintain healthy bones and avoid premature bone loss:
Ensure a healthy diet which includes enough calcium and protein, two key nutrients for bone health
Get enough vitamin D from daily sun exposure and healthy foods high in vitamin D
Keep active with resistance training
Current evidence suggests that adults over 50 should be partaking in regular exercise (twice a week) that focuses on resistance training (strength training, lifting weights) and weight bearing impact loading (jogging, skipping, basketball, tennis, dancing, stair walking). Working with an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist can help you get an individualised plan to increase the effectiveness of your exercise regime.
Being physically active and staying fit and healthy will help you to get the most out of life, whatever your age.Speak to your GP about exercise benefits, or seek out a qualified Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist or Trainer to help guide your exercise.