Friday, December 23, 2016

Physical Activity For Seniors May Be Even More Important Than We Thought

Physical Activity For Seniors May Be Even More Important Than We Thought
By Kurtis Bright

Exercise and Staying Active May Speed Recovery From Injury

It becomes more and more apparent every day how important exercise is for us throughout all of life’s cycles, especially as we age. Studies continue to pile up confirming what we have long known: people who choose not to exercise as they age due to discomfort or fear of injury or simple lack of energy are, counterintuitively, exacerbating those very same problems.

To not exercise is to unwittingly participate in a self-fulfilling prophecy, one made doubly lamentable by the illumination of recent studies showing that nearly a third of people over 50 don’t get any exercise at all.

That is to say, shockingly, beyond the movement that is required for basic existence, 33 percent are completely sedentary.

But a recent study will perhaps encourage sedentary folks to take a second look at finding ways to stay more active into their senior years. A study out of Yale University School of Medicine led by Dr. Thomas Gill followed a group of 1,600 seniors who were mostly inactive. Dr. Gill and his team then asked half the group to undertake a regimen of strength and balance training, and to take regular walks.

The results couldn’t have been more clear: those people in the group that exercised were 25 percent less likely to spend time disabled or injured than the non-exercising group.

Indeed they were apparently more fit and presumably less prone to injury, but according to Dr. Gill, that isn’t all.

“The benefit wasn’t just limited to preventing initial onset of disability but was also effective in promoting recovery after a disability,” Dr. Gill said. “Then, once the recovery occurred, the intervention was effective in preventing subsequent episodes of disability.”

And we would do well not to overlook the importance of that distinction, says Dr. Gill. Most studies only examine the ways exercise can prevent disability.

However, due to the fact that most seniors spend a lot of time lurching back and forth between periods of immobility and full function due to injury plaguing them in their fragility, an exercise program might well reduce the time they spend with limited activity. And by maximizing their activity, their increased strength and balance would presumably reduce their chances of further injury.

“This demonstrates that a physical activity program really has continued, sustained benefit over an extended period of time,” said Dr. Gill. He also suggested that perhaps the exercise helps to create a back-up storehouse of energy that helps to aid recovery when and if injury does occur.

The results were especially promising for the lives of seniors, according to Dr. Gill, considering that most of the participants who entered the study did so with some pre-existing hindrance to their ability to get exercise: they presented with problems of mobility, balance or lack of muscle tone.

This study should be a tremendous boost in the information available out there showing that virtually anyone and everyone can benefit from an exercise program, regardless of their level of fitness at the outset.

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