If you are over the age of 65, it is becoming more important than ever to put your health first. Having a healthy lifestyle at an older age will improve your quality of life immensely. Here I am only addressing two concerns, out of many, that exercise will directly prevent or decrease your risk of having; fall and declined cognition.
The first issue is fall prevention. If you are over the age of 65 you are at an increased risk for a fall and possibly a fractured bone. One in four seniors will have a fall in their lifetime. Having one fall increases your risk for another fall.
This risk can be reduced with regular muscle strengthening. You will not only reduce your risk of having a fall but also of bone fracture and injury. If you look at the image on the right, you can see the immense difference in muscle composition between someone who is sedentary and someone who is regularly active. You can also see that age doesn’t matter as much as activity level does. You do not have to do triathlons to change your muscle density but you do need to exercise and complete resistance training. Sarcopenia (muscle) and osteoporosis (bone) can both reduce one’s quality of life as they age by limiting mobility. A strong and muscular body acts as insurance against slips and falls, making your bones more resilient and our movements more stable. With this resiliency comes lifestyle resilience where you can continue to do all the activities you love and feel great.
The second issue is cognitive improvement. There was a study completed by the British Journal of Sports Medicine that showed a moderate-intensity walking regimen may reduce symptoms of mild cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment is linked to poor blood vessel health in the brain. Participants with vascular cognitive impairment, sometimes called vascular dementia, who walked three hours per week for six months had improved reaction times and other signs of improved brain function versus the control group. This chart shows a cohort and the rate of dementia in people who exercised more than 3 times/week and those who exercised less than 3 times/week. Exercise improves blood circulation and this includes circulation to the brain. “It is well established that regular aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular health and cerebrovascular health,” the study’s senior author Teresa Liu-Ambrose told Reuters Health.
If you are getting older or have family members getting older and you want to get them started on an exercise program, come to LPHC and ask any of our staff members your questions!
Author: Lauren Smith, B.Sc., Physiotherapy Assistant