Sunday, April 15, 2007

“If you didn't exercise as a kid, it could be dangerous to start when you’re older.”


Exercise is advantageous at any age, regardless of prior training experience. The only “danger” in starting a new exercise program—whether an expert or a novice—is if it does not adhere to current safe training techniques.

Otherwise, the effects of exercise are too substantial to pass up. Since there is a tendency for the body to lose muscle as we age (sarcopenia), the American Heart Association (AHA) stresses the importance of physical activity throughout one’s lifetime. In a study investigating the influence of current and/or past physical activity on balance in older adults, current physical activity was the major determinant for postural parameters—not age, gender, body mass index (BMI) and past physical activity. The study went on to show that regular physical activity, even when started later on in life, allowed “…appropriate reorganization of the different components of postural control during sensory conflicting situations.” Thus, the study concluded that physical activity counteracts the age-related decline of postural control. (Buatois et al).

Furthermore, the purpose of another relevant study was to test the hypothesis that an increase in “vascular bed filtration capacity” demonstrated an adaptation to endurance training in the elderly. Indeed, they concluded that exercise influences muscular adaptation. (Charles M. et al).

Losing muscle not only decreases mobility, but also makes the body more susceptible to chronic diseases, according to researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University. They noted that various “biomarkers of aging,” such as muscle mass and strength, BMR and body fat percentage, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, bone density, and temperature regulation—can all be improved with physical activity.

Moral of the story: you can be a gym-rat at any age ;)


American Heart Association (2007). Exercise (Physical Activity) for Older People and Those With Disabilities [online].

Buatois S. Gauchard GC. Aubry C. Benetos A. Perrin P. (2007) Current physical activity improves balance control during sensory conflicting conditions in older adults. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 28(1):53-8.

Charles M. Charifi N. Verney J. Pichot V. Feasson L. Costes F. Denis C. (2006). Effect of endurance training on muscle microvascular filtration capacity and vascular bed morphometry in the elderly. Acta Physiologica. 187(3):399-406.

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