Why is it important for older adults to exercise?

Why is it important for older adults to exercise
Why is it important for older adults to exercise?

Why is it important for older adults to exercise?

Why is it important for older adults to exercise? Without resistance training, your muscles will atrophy and lose mass. Sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle mass) affects 10% to 25% of seniors under the age of 70 and up to half of those over the age of 80

  • Research shows untrained individuals in their 70s and 80s have the same capacity to build muscle as lifelong athletes of the same age, proving it’s never too late to get fitter
  • If you do nothing to prevent sarcopenia, you can expect to lose about 15% of your muscle mass between your 30s and your 80s

According to Harvard University, older adults should be engaging in resistance exercise.

Resistance exercises—those activities that build your muscles—haven’t been shown to have a large direct benefit on heart health. Nonetheless, there are many advantages to investing 20% of your exercise time in strength training. Not only does it help you increase your muscle and core strength, it improves your flexibility and helps protect against falls, which can be disabling for older adults. Ref

Why is it important for older adults to exercise?

Other benefits of strength training (also called resistance training) include improved walking ability and ability to perform daily tasks, relief from joint pain, improved blood sugar control, improved brain health and slowed brain aging

Exercise is clearly a foundational aspect of optimal health, and the good news is that it’s never too late to start, even if you’ve never exercised before and/or are older.

You’re not too old to gain muscle

An elderly person who starts exercises can gain significant benefits according to studies. Recent research adds further support to this notion. Even if an elderly person has never trained they can still build muscle at the same rate as another person who has trained. 

The study,1 undertaken by researchers at the University of Birmingham in England, compared lifelong athletes in their 70s and 80s against men of the same age who had never participated in a structured fitness program.

The aim was to discover if individuals who have never trained can build muscle to the extent that lifelong exercises can. As noted in Neuroscience News, “The researchers … expected that the master athletes would have an increased ability to build muscle due to their superior levels of fitness over a prolonged period of time.”

The answer is encouraging, to say the least, as muscle biopsies taken before and after exercise revealed both groups had identical capacity to build muscle in response to exercise. In a press release, lead researcher Dr. Leigh Breen said:

“Our study clearly shows that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t been a regular exerciser throughout your life, you can still derive benefit from exercise whenever you start.”

Sit less, move more

Why is it important for older adults to exercise, another reason is that sedentary behaviours has greater overall health risks. 

New guidelines, which were issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in November 2018. These guidelines focused on the health risks of sitting, lying, or reclining for extended periods of time during normal waking hours. 

This type of behaviour is considered to be sedentary behavior. It has been linked to greater risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and death from any cause.

It is important to set a timer if you tend to sit for long periods. A good interval time to go by is 30 minutes. This can help remind you to get up and move.  Ref

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